BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY Meeting of the National Executive
Mumbai - June 22-24, 2004
Discussion Paper on TASKS AHEAD :
Immediate and Long-Term
The following draft Discussion Paper on "Tasks Ahead" was placed for reflection before the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party, meeting in Mumbai on June 22-24, 2004. It formulates the main tasks before the Party in fulfillment of its resolve to reenergize itself in a comprehensive manner, in order to be able to successfully deal with both the immediate and long-term challenges before the Party. This document will be finalized on the basis of suggestions from members of the Executive, Party functionaries at other levels, and the views emerging from the Chintan Baithak proposed to be held in July.
Growth is a way of life for any living and mission-driven organization. In the course of their growth, all such organizations face difficulties and develop shortcomings. Quantitative expansion brings in its wake qualitative deficiencies, which, if unchecked and uncorrected, can hinder further growth and even cause decline. However, an organization that is aware of its purpose of existence and continually reminds itself of the goal for which it was founded, never fails to study these shortcomings and to overcome them by applying necessary correctives.
During the period of the Party's phenomenal growth since the late 1980s, many shortcomings have surfaced in the organization. These are inconsistent with our Party's ideals and objectives, with our distinctive ideology, and also with our guiding organizational principles and canons. The need for carrying out corrective measures had become apparent a long time ago. However, the setback our Party has suffered in the recently concluded parliamentary elections has made us acutely aware of both the extent of these deficiencies as well as of the urgency to remedy them.
This Discussion Paper, and the concerted action that will follow for implementing the tasks mentioned herein, are a testimony that the BJP is indeed an organization that has both a growth strategy and a self-correction strategy. This paper, meant for initiating a discussion at the Mumbai meeting of the National Executive and beyond, presents the tasks before us on four fronts: Ideological Front, Organisational Front, Legislative and Governance Front, and Political Front.
Ideological Front :
Restoring the primacy of ideology and idealism
1: The BJP is not an ordinary political party in pursuit of power for the sake of power alone. Rather, it is part of a wider movement, which is guided by the ideology of nationalism and whose goal is to bring about India's all-round national resurgence. We should not be defensive or apologetic about projecting our distinctive ideological identity, about our relationship with other nationalist organizations, and also about our commitment to comprehensive social progress inspired by the eternal and universal values of our civilisation.
We should, in particular, mount a powerful and sustained counter-offensive against all those ideologies and political forces, especially the Congress and the Communists, who reject Hindutva as the basic identity of the Indian Nation, who have perverted the ideal of secularism for their narrow political ends, for whom maligning our Party and our larger movement as "communal" has become a necessity to keep alive their nefarious strategy of anti-BJPism, and in whose hands the destiny of our Motherland is decidedly not safe.
Our commitment to secularism - indeed, India's own commitment to secularism -- is rooted in the Hindu ethos and world-view, which does not discriminate on the basis of faith and categorically rejects the concept of theocracy. We continue to stand for "Justice for all, but appeasement of none". We commit ourselves to strengthening the bonds of Indianness that unite all Indians irrespective of their religion, caste, tribe, region or language. While projecting our unique ideological identity, it will be our determined endeavour to counter narrow and sectarian projection of our ideology, as this harms both the BJP and the larger movement of which we are an integral part.
2: The BJP also reaffirms its commitment to the establishment of a progressive social order, based on the ideals of equality, equity, compassion, cooperation, social justice, social harmony, gender justice, Antyodaya, protection of the environment, preservation of family and social values, and the all-round development of the individual self as an essential precondition of the human evolution. National security and safeguarding the unity and integrity of our Nation will continue to be our highest priority. We remain committed to India's integrated and accelerated development, based on a Swadeshi concept, and by harnessing all the resources, opportunities and new ideas engendered by the changes in the Indian and global economy.
All the above-mentioned ideals and commitments are expounded cogently in Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya's 'Integral Humanism', which is the guiding vision of the BJP. Therefore, encouraging all our karyakartas and functionaries to understand the meaning of 'Integral Humanism' and the tasks it enjoins on us is a major ideological task before the Party.
3: It is not difficult to know why it has become necessary to make the entire party organization realise that we are an integral part of a larger nationalism-inspired movement, that we are working for a lofty goal of nation-building, and that a BJP worker has no reason to be in the Party if he puts his personal interests above his duty to actively work for that goal. We have repeatedly observed that when karyakartas and functionaries are not guided by any lofty ideals, when they are not emotionally inspired by a larger goal, they tend to fall prey to lower-level objectives and considerations, which are alien to our tradition and even harmful to our movement. This is the principal reason why our country's polity is being infected with negative trends such as the rise of caste identities, self-centred behaviour, indiscipline, lack of mutual trust leading to weakening of the team spirit and camaraderie, and pursuit of power for its own sake. We must guard against these tendencies creeping into our Party.
The remedy to this malady lies in rededicating ourselves to the BJP's founding ideals and objectives. We have to carry this awareness right down to the grossroot workers of the Party, through various training, education and orientation programmes, and above all through the personal conduct of Party functionaries. Restoring the primacy of ideals and ideology has also become necessary to separate committed and good karyakartas from opportunists and careerists, to distinguish selfless workers from those who are guided by the consideration of "What is in it for me?", and to identify those who are willing to make sacrifices and remain with the party both in good and bad times. We should encourage our karyakartas to think "What have I given to the Party?" rather than "What has the Party given me?" Our motto has always been: "Nation first, Party next, self last." We will never be able to deal with the gigantic challenges facing our Nation if our party organization comes to be dominated by those who have no basic commitment to idealism and ideology.
Organisational Front: Combining the virtues of a mass party with a strong cadre network
The strength of the BJP lies in its unique nature of combining the virtues of a mass party with a strong cadre network. This strength will have to be further built up in the days ahead by augmenting both the virtues - expanding the mass base of the BJP and simultaneously enlarging and enriching our army of karyakartas.
1 Collectivity, Mutuality and Communication: Collectivity (samuhikata), Mutuality (parasparikata) and Communication (Samvaad) are the three enlightened principles that have defined BJP's organisational culture. These help in strengthening our awareness of the common goal and purpose that unite us, and which we have to pursue in discharging our own individual responsibilities. Unfortunately, there has been some erosion of commitment to these principles at various levels of the Party. Individualism, lack of consultation and coordination, and absence of camaraderie are taking root, diluting the effectiveness of Party's activities. Any deviations and distortions in this regard will have to set right.
2 Style of functioning is a part of our ideology: For these corrective measures to succeed, it is necessary to understand that, as far as the BJP is concerned, personal conduct and style of functioning are a part of our ideology itself. The two cannot be separated. Therefore, commitment to ideology has to be measured also against the yardstick of behaviour and style of functioning.
3 Commitment and accountability to Party, and not to individuals: The Party will have to take action at every level to ensure that positions and responsibilities are given to persons whose primary commitment is to the party, and not to any individual or group. Those in the latter category generally remain loyal and accountability to the group or the individual concerned, and not to the party. This makes the organization fragile and fissiparous, and renders it incapable of going to the people with a united face or dealing with challenges before the Party with cohesion, confidence and determination.
4 Need to stem indiscipline: There is an urgent need to promote and strengthen the culture of discipline and self-discipline at all levels, beginning with higher echelons. The rapidly gathering impression that acts of indiscipline will be condoned and that even serious cases of anti-party activities will be overlooked, has done immense damage to the health of our organization. Earlier, the common people admired the BJP "a party of disciplined leaders and cadres". This was something that even our ideological and political adversaries admitted. It must be the endeavour of our functionaries and karyakartas at all levels to live up to the people's expectations and restore to the BJP the image of a "Party with a difference".
One of the manifestations of indiscipline is the tendency to use the media to air one's grievances. Wittingly or unwittingly, some people in the Party share organizational matters with the media. This causes considerable damage to the Party's image and internal cohesion.
Sometimes, the absence of communication within the Party and the lack of an effective grievance redressal system make Party workers and functionaries breach discipline and commit wrongs. Therefore, we have to strengthen the system whereby workers and functionaries can air their grievances freely at proper forums and feel satisfied. In cases of gross indiscipline and repeated misconduct, deterrent and demonstrative action will have to be taken.
5 Leadership through sustained mass and organizational work: Our Party believes in leadership built through constant mass and organizational work. This has been a source of abiding strength for the Party. Any distortions in this regard will have to be rectified.
6 Inducting more full-time karyakartas: Full-time karyakartas are a source of strength for our Party. In our strategy to re-energize the party organization at all levels, it has become necessary to induct, train and develop a large number of full-time activists, who have no ambition to enter electoral politics or to get positions in the organization. We should make special efforts to ensure that our karyakartas reflect the broad social composition of our diverse society. Ideological education, which motivates a person from within, has to be an important part of this strategy. How to accomplish this through both traditional and non-traditional ways is an important challenge before the Party.
There is also a need to induct good and eminent people into the Party at various levels.
7 Re-orienting the social identity of the Party: In spite of the rapid expansion of the Party in the last two decades, the image of the BJP in many States is still that of the middle classes and upper middle classes. In general, the people belonging to the poor, weaker and downtrodden sections do not yet feel an emotional attachment with the Party. It should be our concerted effort to re-orient the social identity and image of the Party.
8 Energising Morchas and Cells: Morchas, Cells and the proposed Subject Committees are the means whereby the BJP can reach out to specific sections of society. The Party will soon prepare specific strategies to expand the activities of these structures among their respective constituencies in line with our overall growth strategy. We recognize that, in recent years, new groups and constituencies have emerged, both at the local and national levels, which require setting up new Cells. Example: the community of small investors, whose interests and concerns are generally overlooked by market forces and official institutions.
We also recognize that special efforts are required to further increase the Party's activities among numerically large communities such as tribals, denotified tribes, shepherds, fishermen, weavers, etc., as also among vocal and influential groups such as teachers, lawyers and other professionals.
9 Expanding Party's activities among kisans and in rural areas: The Party has resolved to expand its activities among farmers, farm workers and other sections of the rural poor. Although this is the responsibility of the Kisan Morcha, it is become necessary for the entire Party to increase its work in rural areas in a major way. Hence, Party functionaries and workers at all levels should get associated with this work in a consistent way, tour rural areas frequently, and effectively articulate the issues of farmers and other rural communities in various forums. Programmes like the "Gaon Chalo Abhiyan" should be taken up on a regular basis and in more innovative ways.
10 Expanding the Party's work among the Scheduled Castes and Tribes: The BJP has rapidly expanded its support base among the SCs and STs in recent decades. However, there is an immense scope and also an urgent need to further intensify our efforts in this direction. Not only the respective morchas of the BJP, but also the Party as a whole have redouble our activities among these sections of society by championing their causes, highlighting their problems, protesting against their exploitation and oppression, and, where needed, by launching agitational activities. We should also increase the scope of constructive activities, aimed at their socio-economic development and welfare, through voluntary organizations and NGOs. We should propagate our commitment to social justice and social harmony. All our efforts should be directed at establishing an enduring emotional bond between the BJP and our brethren belonging to SCs and STs.
11 Expanding the Party's activities among the Minorities: The BJP believes that minorities form an integral part of our society. We care for them as much as we care for any other section of society, without any kind of discrimination. This is evident from the six-year-long track record of the Vajpayee government. However, due to the sustained and motivated propaganda carried out by our political adversaries, many misconceptions about the BJP and its ideology remain in the minds of our minority brethren. Not only the Minority Morcha, but also the entire Party should make sustained efforts to remove these misconceptions. We should champion their issues in education, employment, economic development and empowerment, with a view to bringing them in the mainstream of the Nation's progress. We should also vigorously expose how pseudo-secular parties have failed to address these real issues and, instead, been treating them only as a vote bank for narrow electoral considerations.
12 Expanding Party's activities among women: For a long time the Party has been aware of the need to expand its women-focused activities and develop new women karyakartas at all levels. This need has become more pronounced and urgent in view of the growing debate on the Women's Reservation Bill, which was first mooted by our own Party. It has become necessary to substantially increase women activists' participation in decision-making within the party organisation. Mahila Morcha should increase its work among the rural and urban poor, SCs, STs, backward classes and minorities. It should also identify and develop new activists from these sections of society. The entire Party should get actively associated with issues relating to women's all-round empowerment.
13 Crucial role of the Yuva Morcha: Among all the Morchas of the BJP, the Yuva Morcha plays a crucial role in expanding our base among the youth, who now form a decisive and numerically significant constituent of India's population. Therefore, the Party units at all levels will have to pay utmost attention to encouraging its growth and guiding its activities. Non-student youth, who are numerically the largest section of the youth and also the least organised, will continue to be our focus. However, we should also endeavour to reach out to idealistic and socially conscious students in universities and other educational institutions through appropriate methods.
It has been observed that sometimes Yuva Morcha functionaries are nominated on the consideration of individual loyalties and preferences of Party functionaries. It is necessary to counter this and some other negative tendencies so that the Party is able to realize the full potential of the Yuva Morcha for advancing its political and organizational objectives. The age limit of 35 years for members and functionaries must be strictly adhered to. The Yuva Morcha should combine agitational, constructive and self-development oriented activities in proper measure. A special focus of the Yuva Morcha will be to instill the spirit of nationalism among the youth, so that they do not come under the influence of casteist, sectarian and divisive forces.
14 Developing young leaders: Developing and projecting young leaders has become one of the urgent tasks before the Party. It should be our endeavour to bring promising young men and women in the age group of 20-25 years into the Party fold, train them for 3-4 years in our ideology and practical activities, provide them opportunities to get experience of governance in local bodies, and thereby enable them to emerge as competent young leaders of the BJP. We have to especially identify and encourage those young activists who belong to sections of society in which the BJP needs to expand its influence and mass base.
15 Energising lower units of the Party: Activation of the lower units of the Party in all the States, and constant monitoring of their activities by higher units has become imperative for energizing the Party organization in sustainable manner. It must always be remembered that BJP workers in the lower units serve as the "Last Mile" personal contact between the Party and the people.
16 Election Management and booth-level activity: Over the years, elections are becoming such a complex and multi-faceted exercise that experience has made our Party acutely aware of the critical importance of election management and, in particular, booth management. We cannot depend on publicity alone - especially, non-personal publicity through the media - to reach out to the voter. Activities such as checking the names of voters in the electoral lists, taking corrective and timely action wherever needed, preparing and distributing voter slips, visiting voters' homes, getting their feedback, and bringing them out to the voting booth, have become indispensable for achieving success. Earlier, attention to these activities was one of the greatest strengths of our Party. Unfortunately, in some places, it has now become a major weakness.
There is another important aspect of election management. Our opponents have been increasingly resorting to misuse of the official machinery and to tactics of intimidation and terror to hijack the election in their favour. Therefore, our Party units right down to the lowest level should be geared up to face this grave challenge and to ensure that elections are indeed free and fair.
In several States and constituencies, our Party functionaries have evolved a good system of election management and booth management. Their experience should be widely disseminated within the Party.
17 Constructive activity: The BJP believes that there is more to Party work than political activity aimed solely at fighting elections and forming one's governments. Indeed, in the BJP's founding conference in Mumbai in 1980, "Samrachana" (constructive activity) was one of the three directional principles we had adopted, the other two being "Sangathan" (organisation building) and "Sangharsh" (agitation). The time has come to make constructive activity an integral part of our organization building. Indeed, we have observed that wherever our karyakartas and functionaries are actively involved in social organizations, educational and healthcare institutions, NGOs, and cooperatives of various kinds, not only have they benefited but the Party too has been able to expand its support base. In particular, constructive activities that create employment opportunities and promote development of the village or the town have a special appeal for the people. In this context, Self Help Groups have become an important employment-generation and income-enhancing means for mobilizing women and the youth. Similarly, social welfare activities undertaken by dedicated religious institutions have a large appeal in society. It is therefore worth considering that we make it necessary for every active Party worker to associate himself or herself with some constructive work. A consultation on this subject will be initiated soon before concretizing a plan of action.
18 Upgrading training activity: Our determination to strengthen the ideological thrust in all our activities makes it necessary for taking up training of party workers not as a sporadic and marginal effort, but as a systematic and regular programme to be run at all levels of the organization. Also, training should not only cover issues of ideology, idealism, and development-related subjects, but also personal conduct and style of functioning, which are also a part of our ideology. Accordingly, the structure for carrying out this activity will be upgraded from a Cell to a full fledged Department on par with the six morchas. In course of time, it will be developed into a Party School with necessary infrastructure in various centers across the country. The Party is setting up a training institute in memory of late Kushabhau Thakre in Bhopal. We already have the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabhodini in Mumbai.
The five major training camps proposed to be held within the next 3-4 months are as follows:
a) A National Training Camp for key State-level functionaries
b) State Training Camps for key district-level functionaries
c) Training Camps for all MPs
d) Training Camps for all MLAs
e) Workshops for Ministers
In addition, the Party proposes to organize a separate training programme for Party spokesmen and others dealing with the media.
19 Information, Documentation, Research and Communication: As an integral part of our effort to strengthen the information and intellectual edifice of the party, we will soon set up in the Party headquarters a full-fledged centre for data collection, documentation, research and communication with modern infrastructure and drawing on the vast reservoir of intellectuals and professionals who support the BJP.
20 Special activities: The Party's special initiatives like "Sahyog", "Samvaad", "Samarpan" and the "Aaajivan Sahyogi Nidhi" campaign have generally evoked a good response. However, there is a need to make them more effective through sustained efforts at all levels.
Governance and Legislative Front:
Setting high standards of performance
1 Improving the performance of BJP-run State Governments: As the fervent proponent of Good Governance, the Party cannot overlook the imperative need to improve the performance of State Governments run by the BJP, alone or as a coalition partner. It is our bounden duty to ensure that the BJP-run governments are able to fulfill the aspirations of the people in their respective States and to meet the promises made in our election manifestoes. This has become all the more important in view of the growing importance of the anti-incumbency trend in Indian elections.
This is possible only with close coordination between the Government and the party, which is sometimes lacking. As a result, once elected into office, the Government does not feel accountable to the Party organization, and the Party organization does not feel involved in the activities of the Government. We have to evolve a workable system whereby the Party organization provides guidance to Chief Ministers, Ministers and elected representatives and monitors their performance. Equally, there has to be a systematic channel of getting feedback from the people as well as grassroot workers and communicating it to those in the Government for suitable action. This channel should also be used for communicating the Government's policies, programmes and achievements to the people, and for countering the negative propaganda of our opponents.
2 BJP in Parliament: After having governed the country for six fulfilling years, the BJP's responsibility as the main opposition party in Parliament has grown manifold. We have to now bring to bear on our new role the full benefit of our knowledge and experience of governance. The people expect the BJP to be "an opposition party with a difference", just as the Vajpayee government was seen as "a government with a difference". This casts a big responsibility on our MPs to perform well both in and outside Parliament. For this, the parliamentary wing of the Party will soon prepare a plan of action.
Constituency-level anti-incumbency has come to affect the BJP's electoral performance in a major way. Therefore, we shall soon to put in place an effective and transparent system of evaluating the performance of our MPs and MLAs on a regular basis.
3 Setting up subject-specific Committees: In our party organization, we have envisaged the establishment of Morchas and Cells as structures to carry out two types of activities: to mobilize specific sections of society around the party and also to carry the party's message to these constituencies. With the passage of time, and especially in view of our experience of governance at the Centre, it has become necessary for the BJP to create some new structures to deal with specific subjects that have become important in our parliamentary and political work. Accordingly, the Party will set up subject specific committees comprising former Ministers, MPs, Members of the National Executive and non-party experts. Examples: Committee on National Security, Committee on Employment Generation, Committee on WTO matters, Committee on Agriculture, Committee on the Informal Sector, Committee on Social Justice, Committee on Human Resource Development, Committee on Women's Empowerment, etc. Among other things, these committees will help the Party intervene more effectively in parliamentary and public debate on various issues and even set the agenda for the debate. The President will soon constitute these Committees and specify their mandates.
4 Interaction between karyakartas and elected representatives: An oft-heard complaint is that ministers, MPs and MLAs have no time to meet and interact with karyakartas. It is not uncommon to hear cases of their negative behavior towards Party workers and the general public. This malaise has to be checked primarily through self-corrective measures by individuals concerned. It is also necessary to put in place improved institutional ways of responding to karyakartas' suggestions and needs, and pursuing specific people-related works brought by them. MPs and MLAs must visit Party offices regularly, attend Party meetings and participate in Party programmes wherever expected.
5 Improving our performance in local self-governance bodies: A large number of our members are elected members of Panchayats, Zilla Parishads, Municipal Councils and Corporations. Many of these local self-governance bodies are also being run by the BJP. There is a need to improve the functioning of our representatives in these bodies. Panchayat and Municipal good governance is an integral part of our commitment to Good Governance (sushasan).
Political Front: Expansion, Consolidation and Revival
States scheduled to go to the polls shortly: Our immediate task is to gear up for the next round of elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh. We should also be ready for the electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh, in view of the fast-developing political situation in the State. Our Party units in these States should meticulously plan every aspect of their election strategy - issues to be made the Party's election issues; mass contact, agitational programmes and publicity campaigns designed around those issues; checking the voters' lists; identification of winnable candidates; constituency-wise stock-taking of organizational preparedness; election management and booth management issues, etc. Local-level resource generation is also an important task.
Other States: A survey of the BJP's position in various States of the country would show that it would be useful to categorise these in four groups for the purpose of determining our future growth strategy.
1. The first category consists of those States where the BJP is in power. Our overriding objective here is to improve the performance of our governments, strengthen the coordination between the Party and the Government, and to effectively communicate the Government's policies, programmes and achievements to the people. In these states, those in the Government and the party organization should together determine our strengths and weaknesses, and ways to augment the former and reduce the latter. They should identify the issues that are likely to figure whenever elections are held and also the issues on which the Party would like to seek a renewed mandate. Based on this determination, our Governments should reorient their policies, programmes and functioning, and our party units should draw up suitable plans for political work, organizational restructuring and propaganda. Greater opportunities should be created for Party workers to have a sense of participation in the activities of the government, and in monitoring the implementation of the policies and programmes of the Government.
2. The second category consists of those States where the BJP is not in power but is a formidable opposition party. Here our party units, legislature wings and morchas have to perform an aggressive role in exposing the failures and shortcomings of the incumbent governments. They should make mass agitations and mass contact programmes as the main thrust of Party's activities, especially on issues that are likely to figure prominently in the next elections. They should identify organizational weaknesses and take prompt action to set things right. The process of evaluating the performance of incumbent MLAs, identifying winnable candidates, and resource generation at the local level should begin in right earnest.
3. The third category comprises States where the BJP was once a formidable force but has now become weak. Our Party units in these states should conduct an honest and thorough analysis of the factors that have caused the BJP's decline. There should be proper evaluation of the contribution of all the leading functionaries, based on which accountability has to be fixed. Promising new persons should be given an opportunity to come in place of those who could not perform. Party units and morchas should draw up a plan of action based on a careful determination of the issues that are agitating the minds of the people and are likely to define political events in their respective States. They should carefully look at the reasons that prompted those sections of society which were traditional supporters of BJP to go away from us. They should also identify such crucial sections of society in which our party has so far been weak but where we have a potential for growth.
4. The fourth and the last category includes States where our Party has always had a weak or marginal presence. The BJP's enduring weakness in these States has cost our party dearly in the recent parliamentary elections. We have to make an in-depth study of the reasons for our prolonged failure to grow in these States. We should determine the special socio-political and cultural aspects of these States, which have hindered our growth and enabled other parties to dominate the political scene. Short-term plans, drawn up for one election after another, have not helped. Obviously, we should prepare a long-range growth strategy in these States. As a part of this strategy, we should implement a well thought-out cadre building plan in every Assembly constituency. While forging alliances may be necessary, it should be our endeavour to develop our independent strengths in specific geographical clusters and in specific sections of society.
The above draft Discussion Paper is not an exhaustive but indicative presentation of the immediate and long-term tasks ahead of the Party. The BJP has seen many ups and downs in the past. It has overcome many a setback by applying appropriate course correctives. We are confident that we shall do so yet again and emerge stronger to effectively face the challenges before the Party and the Nation.