I welcome you all to this National Executive meeting which is being held as a prelude to the Rajat Jayanti Session of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This is going to be the last meeting of this Executive, and the last meeting which I shall be presiding over.
The first session of the party was held on 27th, 28th and 29th of December, 1980 in Mumbai at Bandra. It is exactly 25 years later at Bandra again that our Party is having its Silver Jubilee Session.
These twenty five years have been really tumultuous for our Party. In his 1980 Presidential Speech Shri A.B. Vajpayee concluded his peroration with these words:-
“Standing on the shores of this ocean beneath the Western Ghats, I can say this with confidence about the future: Darkness will be dispelled, the Sun will rise and the Lotus shall bloom.”
The tens of thousands of delegates who had assembled here for that session left Mumbai fired with enthusiasm and confidence.
And together, we have really made history. The Lotus has bloomed with splendour and fragrance beyond anyone’s imagination.
It is in these twenty five years that the single party dominance of the Congress Party has been smashed. The BJP has made spectacular strides and converted India’s polity into a bipolar polity, with BJP and Congress as the two principal poles of national politics.
Thanks to the six years of NDA rule (1998-2004), India has become a nuclear power and the economy has undergone a metamorphosis. The NDA’s slogan that we shall make India a fully developed country by 2020, which at one time seemed a tall order, is now acknowledged by all economic analysts as being within the realm of possibility.
In my political life of more than half a century, I can count 12 defining years:
1951: launching of the Jana Sangh by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji.
1953: the Kashmir movement and Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji’s martyrdom.
1968 : assassination of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.
1975 : imposition of the Emergency and incarceration in Bangalore, followed by the anti-Emergency movement.
1977 : a landmark Lok Sabha election, end of the emergency, and installation of the Janata Government headed by Shri Morarji Desai.
1980 : formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party after we erstwhile
members of the Jana Sangh are forced to quit the Janata Party because of our association with the RSS.
1984 : in the Lok Sabha election that followed the assassination of Smt. Indira Gandhi, the BJP’s strength in the Lok Sabha is reduced to just two seats.
1990 : the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya.
1996 : in election after election since 1984 the BJP has been growing by leaps and bounds and in this year’s election outstrips the Congress Party to become the single largest Party in the Lok Sabha; Shri Vajpayee forms the government, but this lasts for just 13 days.
1998 : the NDA Government is formed with Shri Vajpayee as Prime Minister.
2004 : the NDA Government faces an unexpected defeat.
2005 : (a) a six-day visit to Pakistan; during which I am asked to inaugurate a project for the restoration of Katasraj temples of the Mahabharat era.
(b) NDA wins a landmark election in Bihar; this election is as significant as the Lok Sabha election of 1977.
Each of these major events has been an educative experience in its own distinctive way. Some brought us joy and filled us with energy. Others brought us setback, uncertainty about the future and forced us to introspect.
But never once did we lose confidence in ourselves or faith in the path we chose way back in 1951, a choice which we renewed in 1980.
Who would have imagined in all our 24 years in the Jana Sangh that one day we would form a government at the Centre? Who would have imagined this even in 1985, just 20 years back?
But we succeeded. Why? Because of our faith in ourselves. Because of our dedication, discipline, commitment and hard work. Because of our determination. Because of our unwavering desire to work for making India a Great Nation.
I commend these qualities to all of you once again: Self-confidence, Dedication, Discipline, Commitment, Hard Work, and Determination. And, the inborn desire to see that India emerges as a Great Nation.
With these qualities, we can move mountains. With these qualities, we can achieve revival and bounce back stronger than ever before.
Ultimately, what matters more than the journey itself is what one has learnt from that journey. I have no doubt – and I am sure that none of you have any doubt – that we have collectively learnt an immense lot from our journey during these 25 years. For me too it has been a period of great learning, more particularly the year just about to end.