Respected Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, National Council members, assembled dignitaries and friends.
First of all, I would like to convey my heartfelt gratitude to Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Shri L.K. Advani for the affection and confidence reposed in me by proposing my name for Presidentship. I would also like to thank all members of the National Council and State Council for re-electing me as President of the Party for the second time.
Ours is the only Party, which conducts organisational elections regularly from Mandal level to National level. Internal democracy is the strength of political parties. If our Party has grown from strength to strength, it is principally because we have remained committed to both inner-party democracy and inner-party discipline.
At the National Council meeting on August 3, 2002, which was held after I was elected president of the Party for the first time, I had said that I was just a disciplined karyakarta who has grown with the organisation. I am still a karyakarta by heart. I feel humbled by the responsibility that the Party has entrusted to me. I assure you that I shall continue to discharge this responsibility to the best of my abilities, always guided by the legacy of ideology and idealism that Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya have bequeathed to us.
Today I pay homage to the memory of one of my esteemed predecessors, Shri Kushabhau Thakre, who left us recently.
When I look back at the 18 months of my previous term, it gives me the needed satisfaction to move forward. Together with my colleagues - both those who are office-bearers and those who are in the Government - we have been able to galvanize the Party and achieve good results. In particular, our success in Operation 2003, in which we won resounding victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, has consolidated the BJP's position in the country's politics.
Indeed, this meeting of the National Council is taking place in the background of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, which we have termed as Mission 2004. I have no doubt that the BJP will be crowned with success in this historic electoral battle.
Friends, we gather here today with an enormous sense of pride and achievement, and a huge burden of responsibility.
For the past six years, the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been at the helm of a momentous experiment to change the face of the motherland to which we have dedicated ourselves.
At the time of the creation of the National Democratic Alliance Government, we promised the people a proud and prosperous India. To us in the BJP, it was more than an election promise.
It was a mission statement.
Today, as we begin preparations for the next Lok Sabha election, I can proudly claim that we have succeeded in unleashing the potential of India.
After 50 years of despair and wasted opportunities, India has recovered its bearings. It has rediscovered its soul. Its energies have been harnessed.
In ancient times, India was the vishwa guru, the world leader, at the cutting edge of the sciences, the arts and a trading centre of the world.
We lost that position. We lost our freedom and our self-confidence. We moved into the Dark Ages. We lowered our sights.
Today, we have set the stage to reclaim our rightful inheritance. We have set our goals and we have set them high.
* India must become a developed country by 2020.
* India must become an economic superpower.
* India must once again be jagat guru.
Under the leadership of Shri Vajpayee, India is geared to making this leap forward.
The NDA Government has created the environment for India to harness its creative energies. The Prime Minister has shown the way in discarding a negative mindset and the culture of cynicism.
Vajpayee ji has shown us that our dreams are for real.
Vajpayee ji has told us that we cannot be second-best. He has inspired us to think big.
Vajpayee ji has made it proud to be Made in India.
The country's image has brightened and its standing has risen significantly in the international comity. Before the 1998 Parliamentary elections, we had described Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee as "The Man India Awaits". Today we can proudly say that he is "The Statesman India Adores and the World Admires".
Today, we can see and feel the change in the mood of the country. The seeds we planted some six years are gradually beginning to yield fruit.
The development process in India is visible and being felt.
We have reason to be happy that our Government gave priority to rural development through initiatives like the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana, which is the largest Food-for-Work programme since Independence, rural housing, remunerative prices to farmers, the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, massive rural connectivity programme, Kisan Credit Cards to 3.5 crore farmers, crop insurance scheme, chain of cold storages, rural godowns, increase in rural lending by the banks from Rs.40000 to Rs.70000 crores.
All these speak of our commitment to comprehensive development of agriculture and rural India.
In the past five years, India has witnessed a Connectivity Revolution, encompassing highways, rural roads, railway, ports and airports. The fruits of the Golden Quadrilateral, PMGSY and the telecom revolution are already being felt. There is also an unprecedented boom in housing construction, made possible by a steep reduction in interest rates.
India is today an IT superpower. The world respects us. It also fears our abilities.
In time, we will feel the benefits of power reforms, the interlinking of rivers and global access for agriculture produce.
We have taken India out of the era of shortages. We have put hoarders and blackmarketers out of business.
By easing controls, we are on the verge of making the dalal redundant.
We have many milestone legislations to our credit like, Anti-Defection Law, Open Ballot Elections in Rajya Sabha, right-sizing the Ministries and Proxy Voting by Defence personnel.
We have built the foundations of a better life for our children and grandchildren. They will have opportunities none of us could dream of.
Our development is not only visible, it is credible.
Today, in the international community, India counts.
Indians have always mattered in the world. Today, India matters.
India is on the road to greatness. We want this journey to be smooth and uninterrupted.
In this election, every Indian has real choices.
In this election, there are only three issues:
For us, development is not a lifeless economic statistic. It is not only about GDP and BOP. It is ultimately about the quality of life.
We in the BJP remain committed to integral humanism which looks at development in its totality.
For us, development cannot be separated from care, compassion and good citizenship.
It is rooted in family values. It involves a cultural renaissance. It means strengthening of our Bharatiyata, which we also call Hindutva.
For five decades, India has been hostage to the wrong policies pursued by the Congress party. These policies have cost India dearly.
The policies of the Congress party have sown discord and division. They have diverted the attention of India from the real tasks. They kept us backward for 50 years.
The legacy of the Congress is dismal.
The Congress of today bears no resemblance to the Congress that led the freedom struggle. Today's Congress is not the Congress of Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Rajaji and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Today's Congress is a Party without ideology and direction. It has no values, no character and no faith in Indians.
The NDA Government has been working tirelessly to undo the damage inflicted on the country by the Congress. Where the Congress created problems, our government has attempted to solve them.
Friends, as we approach the 2004 general election it is apparent that it is the BJP that has become the stable pole of Indian politics. We are setting the agenda; our opponents are caught up in negativism.
For the BJP, it has been a satisfying journey. Exactly 20 years ago, we had just 2 Members in Lok Sabha. Since 1996, we have emerged as the single largest political party in three successive elections.
We have expanded-numerically, socially and geographically. From the Andamans to Arunachal and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the BJP is a force throughout India. In 2003, we secured our first government in the North-east, in Arunachal Pradesh. The BJP is also a partner in the Nagaland Government.
Today, there are BJP-led governments in seven states. In addition, we are partners in two other state governments.
We have Overseas Friends of the BJP in the Indian diaspora. Of late we have also instituted party-to-party contacts with organisations overseas.
The continuous and steady growth of the BJP is a consequence of the dedication and hard work of the thousands of our workers. Our karyakartas are our ambassadors, the lifeline between the people and the party.
In just 24 years, the BJP has made its mark on public life in India. We are a party with a difference.
This election provides us with an opportunity to further expand our base, both socially and geographically.
I must emphasise that the BJP is under-represented among a section of India's minorities. This is due to the climate of fear and alarmism created by those who view minorities as their special vote banks.
The conduct of the NDA Government should have dispelled these fears.
The BJP believes in a policy of justice for all and appeasement of none. It is committed to the equality of all religions. It stands for the peaceful coexistence of all faiths and the resolution of all outstanding problems through sustained dialogue.
Of late I see a big change in the attitude of minorities, especially our Muslim brethren, towards our Government and our Party. The peace initiatives taken by the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the sincere but firm way in which our Government has been dealing with the Kashmir issue, have made a positive impression on the minorities.
At the National Executive meeting in Hyderabad, I had called upon the minorities to "cross the barrier of their own mental hesitation" and support the BJP. This seems to be happening. It is now upto our workers to seize this opportunity and secure the support of minorities by removing their apprehensions, if any.
It is for this reason that I call upon all Party members to make redoubled efforts to reach out to members of minority communities. Earlier, as a result of the disinformation campaign by our adversaries, they remained aloof from our Party.
The BJP is a party of Indians, by Indians and for Indians. We stand in sharp contrast to the Congress.
In this coming election, the BJP has set the agenda. We will seek a renewed mandate on the strength of our Prime Minister, our performance in government and our ability to take India to a prosperous future.
Every election has a context and this election will be about leadership and development. On both counts, our record inspires confidence.
The NDA has justified the faith people reposed in it five years ago. In Prime Minister Vajpayee we have a leader who inspires confidence and who unites the country. The Prime Minister is our symbol; the BJP is his army.
This is what the election will be about. Do not be derailed by extraneous issues. Do not allow the Congress to divert attention from the main issues.
The Congress is vulnerable; it has no answers to India's success. Pin them down to their failures, corner them.
Remind them of the record of their state governments-about Telgi in Karnataka and Maharashtra, about infighting in Kerala and Punjab and about non-governance in Assam and Uttaranchal.
Never fail to remind the Congress of the black hole they have helped create in Bihar.
Ask tough questions but keep the campaign dignified.
We not only have a battle to win; we have a political culture to uphold. The eyes of the whole world will be on the BJP.
We will fight the election on a progressive platform. A committee is already working on the BJP's Vision Document. It will be released in the next few weeks.
Our thrust will be on making India an economic superpower and fighting poverty through the creation of wealth.
India is shining. We will make it glow.
For the BJP this will be a landmark election. We have defined the target of Mission 2004 as 300 seats for the BJP and a 2/3rd majority for the NDA.
It may seem a high target. It will become a realisable target if the party campaign is elevated to a people's campaign.
Use the election campaign to draw in people who have traditionally kept out of politics. Draw in the youth, draw in women, draw in minorities, draw in the kisans, and draw in the dalits.
Involve every Indian who is proud to be an Indian today.
Let every Indian who is feeling good be a soldier for Vajpayee ji so that he can feel better.
As we approach the election, our party machinery must be ready to take on the challenge.
Thanks to the special attention by Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Advani ji there is excellent rapport between the party and the government. There is regular interaction between the leadership and the cadre.
There is harmony between the party and fraternal organizations of the nationalist parivar.
We have before us the action plan approved by the National Executive. I call upon Party units at all levels to quickly complete the task of work distribution and assigning specific duty to each individual. The foremost responsibility is to ensure the success of the ongoing "Atal Sandesh Abhiyan", whose slogan is: "Go to every village, Walk every street, Knock at every door, and Contact every voter".
As a part of the Atal Sandesh Abhiyan, we plan to hold 100 rallies in different parts of the country. I urge you to make these rallies a huge success. These rallies should be supplemented by conventions of intellectuals and professionals in every Parliamentary constituency. Simultaneously, I would like you to take up mobilisation of resources under the "Chunav Sahayata Nidhi" campaign with utmost seriousness.
To succeed, we must maintain the team spirit. We have always succeeded when we have entered the battle united and fought as a team.
We have already won the first round of the battle. Let us now finish the job.
Vande Mataram, Bharat Mata ki Jai.