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Presidential Address by Shri L.K. Advani,
Bharatiya Janata Party
National Convention
28-30, 2005 Mumbai

Friends,

Rarely in history has an organization crossed so many pinnacles combating fierce resistance, and achieved so much in so short a span of time. For everyone assembled here to observe the Silver Jubilee of the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party, this is indeed a momentous occasion. This is a moment of achievement; this is a moment of triumph; this is a moment of pride. But as we celebrate our remarkable accomplishments we must use this occasion to rededicate ourselves to the task of building a new India; we must temper our pride with humility even as we accept the challenge history has placed before us - the responsibility to lead our beloved motherland to an unparalleled status in the world.

Over the years the BJP has evolved into the instrument for India's transformation to an egalitarian, enlightened and empowered society. We are gathered here to carry forward the strategy to unshackle India from the bondage of prejudices, to integrate its glorious past with its shining future.

CULTURAL NATIONALISM AS BINDING FORCE

Twenty-five years is a mere blip in our civilisation's 5000-year-old history. But the BJP's history does not begin with its formation in 1980. We are inheritors of the great tradition, the collective memory and intellect of Bharatvarsha; we embody continuity with change. In the contemporary period, the Bharatiya Janata Party carries forward the legacy of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh founded in 1951 by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerji, one of the principal framers of the Indian Constitution, and a key member of Pandit Nehru's first Cabinet. Many of us became active in politics only in 1951, when the Jana Sangh was formed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party was born in 1980, when some persons in the Janata Party demanded that its erstwhile Jana Sangh members sever their links with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh. We outrightly rejected that demand because most of us derive our cultural moorings and nationalist convictions from the RSS. We chose to part ways with the Janata Party on this issue and remain a stakeholder in the larger Sangh Parivar.

Prior to Independence when the Indian National Congress was a mass movement and not a political party, within the Congress there were contending strands - Socialists, Communists and radical Nationalists all of whom worked under its umbrella. But the Congress under Jawaharlal Nehru, especially after 1947, strayed from the true ethos of India in its pursuit of the leftist definition of secularism, abandoning its cultural moorings and failing to acknowledge that in India nationalism had a primarily cultural connotation. And that culture is Hindu.

As I have said many times earlier, India is a naturally secular society because its culture is defined by the Hindu ethos, which is quintessentially secular. It is the perversion of secularism under successive Congress regimes that the Jana Sangh and BJP stood against. It is a matter of enormous satisfaction that the people of India have recognized that the secularism-communalism debate as defined by the Congress and the Left is altogether phoney. Recently, I read a book titled 'The World is Flat' by well-known journalist Thomas Friedman. I quote an extract to underline this point:

"With some 150 million Muslims, India has more Muslims than Pakistan. But here is an interesting statistic from 9/11: There are no Indian Muslims that we know of in al-Qaeda and there are no Indian Muslims in America's Guantanamo Bay post-9/11 prisons. And no Indian Muslims have been found fighting alongside Jihadists in Iraq. Why is that?

Why do we not read about Indian Muslims, who are a minority in a vast Hindu-dominated land, blaming America for all their problems and wanting to fly airplanes into the Taj Mahal or the British embassy? Lord knows Indian Muslims have their grievances about access to capital and political representation. And inter-religious violence has occasionally flared up in India with disastrous consequences. I am certain that out of 150 million Muslims in India, a few will one day find their way to al-Qaeda. But this is not the norm. Why? The answer is context - and, in particular, the secular, free - market, democratic context of India, heavily influenced by a tradition of non-violence and Hindu tolerance."

SETTING THE AGENDA OF NATIONAL DEBATE

Friends, we can rightfully congratulate ourselves today for having conclusively demonstrated the falsity of the secular versus communal classification as made by the Left. We can be proud that since Independence the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and then the Bharatiya Janata Party has set the agenda of the national debate.

Starting with the question of national integration, which Dr. Mookerji took up in relation to Jammu & Kashmir, through the struggle against authoritarianism during the Emergency, corruption in high places in the context of the Bofors revelations, minorityism and pseudo-secularism practiced by the Congress and the Left and then bringing development to the top of the national agenda, the Jana Sangh-BJP's role has been crucial to the evolution of the Indian polity. Over the last 50 years we have repeatedly emphasized the issue of development and counterpoised it against divisive ideas championed by parties that appeal to primordial loyalties of caste and community.

Our recent victory in Bihar in alliance with the Janata Dal (United) proves that the appeal of B-S-P (Bijli-Sadak-Pani) has begun to override the lure of casteism. Most importantly, since the BJP's formation, we have successfully made Indian polity bi-polar. India is not yet close to having a two party system. But over the last couple of decades, especially since the 1996 elections, political parties in India have got clustered around the Congress or the BJP. The magnitude of this achievement should not be lost on anyone.

BJP HAS SHAPED CONTEMPORARY INDIA

The Bharatiya Janata Party is a product of innumerable struggles and incomparable sacrifices. Apart from the instances I just cited, it was the Bharatiya Janata Party that pulled India back from the brink of open caste conflict with its unifying programme of constructing a Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. When divisive forces sought to dismember the intrinsic unity of the country by pitting caste against caste, we electrified India with the Rath yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya. Personally, it was an eye-opener for me to realize through the journey that India yearned for a sense of direction in its desire to bond with its tradition in its quest for modernity. Since then I have undertaken several yatras across the length and breadth of this country. During these yatras I stressed the core issues of national integration and good governance and I am happy that these planks have now emerged as the people's principal concerns.

Friends, unfortunately the task of building a temple appropriate to the status Bhagwan Shri Ram occupies in the heart of every Indian, remains unachieved. The BJP's mission will not be complete till a temple befitting Bhagwan Shri Ram is built at his place of birth. Each one of us must rededicate ourselves to this mission, for Shri Ram is not just a religious icon; he is also the symbol of the Indian ethos, culture and unity. He is the personification of our concept of cultural nationalism.

VAJPAYEE GOVERNMENT'S PROUD RECORD

Every Indian at home and abroad walks taller today thanks to the revolutionary policies the NDA Governments initiated. Within less than two months of assuming office the NDA Government headed by Shri A.B. Vajpayee gave the world the Pokharan surprise and made India a nuclear power. It was during the NDA years that the Information Technology revolution happened. Infrastructure development, such as the Golden Quadrilateral and North-South-East-West Corridor expressways, metalled roads linking every village under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, access to drinking water through Swajaldhara in rural areas, primary education to one and all through sarva shiksha abhiyan, telecom connectivity - in fact, almost everything that we take for granted today - is a result of the enlightened, forward-looking commitment of our Government.

If India is a preferred investment destination for Foreign Institutional Investors and MNCs and the economy is robust today, ask yourself, would it have been possible without six years of NDA rule? Just 15 years ago, American planes flew into the airport of this very city to take away gold as a collateral against loans. In a complete reversal, under our regime, the US Administration declared India as its natural ally. Unlike the present Congress-led Government, we dealt with world powers as equals not supplicants.

INDIA'S BETRAYAL BY UPA

The irony is that the UPA Government, led by the Congress, is pursuing economic policies that have slowed the growth of the economy and progressively burdened the ordinary people. As I said at the Chennai meeting of the National Executive in September, those who talked of holding the hands of the 'aam aadmi' have forgotten the common people and are busy bestowing favours on the 'khaas aadmi' - rich businessmen, foreign multinationals and big financiers, those who judge India's progress only through the Sensex. The UPA Government despite paying eloquent lip service has no real concern for the 30 per cent of the people who still live below the poverty line after 50 years of Congress rule or even the 70 per cent of this country that lives in its villages.

The state of agriculture and allied activities continues to be a cause of deep concern. The share of agriculture in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been falling over the years but its share in total employment in the country remains high. Bulk of our people still stay in villages and depend on farming for their livelihood. It was against this background that the Tenth Five Year Plan had targeted GDP growth in this sector at an annual rate of four percent. But because of continued neglect, it has not been possible for the country to achieve it. The annual agriculture growth rate in the first three years of the Tenth Plan has averaged about one percent.

In fact there has been deceleration in both live stocks and crop sectors. The growth of input use in agriculture has also dropped. Farm incomes are falling. Cash crops such as oilseeds, pulses, cotton and sugarcane are stagnating. As a result farmers, struggling under the burden of growing debts, are being forced to commit suicide. It is high time we did serious introspection and had a relook at our development model. A system, which neglects over fifty percent of our people, is obviously not an ideal one.

Why only villages, even mega cities like Mumbai are collapsing as a result of the incumbent Government's callousness. We watched in horror the sufferings of Mumbaikars during the devastating floods of July. But even after five months the Government here is unable to come up with a plan for improving the civic services. It is the same story in Bangalore, India's IT capital. Meanwhile fuel prices are going up continuously and more draconian taxes are being imposed on the salaried classes. We are paying an education cess but most of the funds are lying unused or are being diverted to pay salaries of teachers, which was not the avowed purpose of levying it. The Government compliments itself for FII inflows into the stock market, but fails to realize that the systematic neglect of the manufacturing sector means not many jobs are being created. Nor are the fundamentals of the economy getting stronger. While India produces just 50 million tons of steel per annum, China makes 300 million tons.

U.P.A POLICIES ARE FLAWED

Clearly, in just 19 months, the incumbent regime led nominally by Manmohan Singh and actually by Sonia Gandhi has frittered away all the gains notched up by the Vajpayee Government. It has diluted our consistent position on nuclear issues by accepting US dictation on nuclear policy. In pursuit of a few illusory tons of fuel for Tarapur, it has signed on the dotted line to barter away the nuclear prowess our Government gave India through the Pokharan blasts. The Prime Minister tells us that the Indo-US nuclear deal will be implemented strictly on the basis of reciprocity. But American officials have made it clear that the US Congress will not agree to ratify the deal till India complies first. In other words, it is not based on give-and-take, which is what is understood by reciprocity. It is based on the policy of 'we will give, they will take'!

In the neighbourhood, the Government's inconsistent policy towards Nepal has only emboldened the Maoists to publicly resolve to destroy Indian democracy. The Chief of Bangladesh Rifles has had the audacity to come to Delhi and accuse us of masterminding blasts in their country even as they export lakhs of illegal immigrants to India and shelter separatist rebels from our North-East. Many such illegals pose a serious threat to national security since they work as part of the sleeper cells organized by Pakistan's ISI. Out of its phoney concern for secularism, the UPA Government has abandoned all effort initiated by us to deport Bangladeshi immigrants.

Instead, when the Supreme Court struck down the IMDT Act, the Prime Minister set up a Group Of Ministers Committee to examine how to introduce a pro-immigrant law under a new name.

UPA GOVERNMENT: GLARING LACK OF POLITICAL MORALITY

With the kind of internal pulls, pressures, posturing and blackmailing that the UPA has experienced since its inception, nobody expected the ruling coalition to be an epitome of homogeneity. But a modicum of political morality is certainly required of any government that runs the affairs of the world's largest democracy. Sadly, the Congress led regime has failed even this minimal test.

Here is a Government in which as many as four ministers had to be sacked because their hands had been soiled by criminalization. Two of them had arrest warrants issued against them on charges of murder. A third was indicted for his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage. Additionally, one high-profile minister, who held the important portfolio of external affairs, had to be shown the door because of his involvement in a corruption scandal the like of which India has never seen.

In none of these cases did the Prime Minister act proactively. In some cases, he perhaps wanted to act, but could not because real power in this Government does not rest in the hands of the Prime Minister. The Opposition and the strong voice of public opinion had to literally force him to eject the tainted ministers out of his Government. In the case of the former external affairs minister, ejection became a two-step process - first stripping him of his portfolio and then stripping of his ministership.

It is now universally known that not only Natwar Singh, who was removed from the Cabinet kicking and screaming, but the Congress Party itself was a non-contractual beneficiary of Saddam Hussein's largesse. Media reports put the amount at a staggering Rs.528 crores, several times the Rs.64 crore kickback a Congress functionary is supposed to have received from Bofors. The Congress Party, which has fathered the culture of corruption in India, does not appear remotely ashamed. On the contrary, it is brazenly using official investigating agencies to try and shift the focus away from those who were the real beneficiaries. That explains the desperation to hang Natwar Singh, the mere messenger-cum-commission agent, and portray Party President Sonia Gandhi as squeaky-clean.

Smt. Sonia Gandhi, as Congress President, cannot continue to pretend she did not know her party was a beneficiary of Saddam's oil kickbacks. Since there is a prima facie case against the party she heads, Sonia Gandhi must step down as head of the National Advisory Council. The Volcker report has only reinforced the Congress Party's utter disregard for probity in public life. It is the responsibility of every member of the BJP to carry this shameless tale of sleaze to every corner of India and mobilize people to demand an explanation.

A few weeks before the Volcker Report was tabled with the UN, shocking disclosures emerged from the second volume of The Mitrokhin Archives. The publication conclusively proved that not only the Communists but also senior Congress leaders were on the payroll of the former Soviet regime. The Communists' loyalty to the nation was always suspect for they had opposed the Quit India Movement in 1942 and supported China during the 1962 conflict. But The Mitrokhin Archive II has exposed the Congress's so-called commitment to the nation. It has demonstrated how easily Congress leaders were made to subserve the interests of a foreign power and had no qualms in selling our country's prize secrets for a fistful of cash.

OUST CONGRESS TO END CORRUPTION

The BJP has always believed that the Congress and its ruling dynasty is the fountainhead of all corruption in this country. While that does not justify the actions of some of our own members in the recent scandal involving Parliamentarians, it reinforces our conviction that unless the Congress culture is uprooted lock, stock and barrel from our system, the task of combating corruption will never be accomplished. In other words, if the scourge of corruption is to be removed from our society, the Congress will have to be ousted from every lever of power. Power corrupts; Congress in power corrupts absolutely.

It has been our conviction since the days of the Jana Sangh that the problem of corruption in politics stems not just from avarice and greed, as in other fields, but is directly linked also to the fact that elections are becoming costlier and costlier, and that most political parties and candidates are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the situation.

In 1972, a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Amendments to Election Law was set up. Shri A.B. Vajpayee and myself had the privilege of serving on this Committee. We pleaded strongly for public funding of elections. The idea was accepted in principle, but Government felt that the burden on the public exchequer would be enormous. In our dissent note appended to the report Shri Vajpayee and I wrote :

'The Committee has done well to accept in principle that "all election expenses should be a legitimate charge on public funds" and that "the burden of legitimate election expenses at present borne by the candidate or the political party would be progressively shifted to the State". But the measures recommended for the implementation of this radical principle are feeble and halting. The malady calls for drastic remedies. Half-heartedness will not do. In this context, we think the proposal of giving election grants to recognized political parties partly in advance on the basis of their performance in the preceding election and partly after the elections on the basis of their actual poll performance needs to be seriously considered.'

I am happy to note that last week the Cabinet has endorsed the idea of public funding of elections. I urge that a viable action-plan in this regard be drawn up and implemented without further delay.

NATION FIRST MEANS GOOD GOVERNANCE

Arguably, combating corruption is only one aspect of building a strong and contented India. All other policies will have to be dovetailed under the principle of Nation First. You may rightfully ask, what does Nation First mean in practice? I urge you to look back at the benchmarks we sought to establish when we were in power. Nation First has to be interpreted as Good Governance wherever we get an opportunity to govern. I have often said that Congress delivered us Swaraj but never gave us Su-raj. The BJP is committed to ushering in the era of Su-raj. Good Governance is equivalent to the Ram Rajya Gandhiji dreamed of. Good Governance is the instrument by which we make Nation First a tangible reality.

Su-raj is not only about economic prosperity. Spurt of Sensex, ostentatious marriages, opening of casinos are not indicators of social progress. For a country of India's diversity, Su-raj must encompass social cohesion, which is why the BJP has consistently projected samarasta as an essential goal. We are the only party to have determinedly opposed the politics of vote banks. Years ago, we gave the slogan, 'Justice for all; appeasement to none'. That remains our motto; the BJP will cease to be a party with a difference the day it succumbs to the temptation of vote-bank politics, which is being relentlessly pursued by everybody else in their shortsighted goal to come to power.

DEFEAT DIVISIVE PLOTS

We shall continue to oppose with all our might the Congress and Left's invidious attempts to divide the people of India by appealing to their baser instincts. We shall resist the conversion of Aligarh Muslim University into an institution virtually reserved for a particular community. We shall fight the attempt by Congress State Governments to introduce minority quotas in jobs. We shall continue our agitation against setting up Commissions exclusively aimed at promoting minority educational and political interests. We shall combat the exemption proposed for minority institutions in the matter of reservations for Dalits and Backward Classes in private colleges and universities. We shall resolutely oppose the nefarious move to reintroduce the IMDT Act in Assam by another name. We shall relentlessly resist the continuing influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and reject the attempt to classify them as hapless economic refugees.

When Bharatiya Janata Party says Nation First, it also means placing national security on top of the country's agenda. The UPA Government has systematically lowered the barriers installed by the NDA regime to enhance the nation's security. As a result, Naxalites are emboldened to over-run Jehanabad in Bihar, walk into a high-security prison, free their colleagues and whisk away their opponents who are subsequently found murdered. If the Government cannot secure a jail, the most visible symbol of the authority of the state, how can it give a feeling of security to the ordinary citizen? By playing footsie with Nepali Maoists the Government has allowed their Indian counterparts to establish a powerful presence in 170 out of India's 600-odd districts. This Government has also lowered its guard in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of which infiltration by cross-border terrorists has increased.

CONGRESSISATION OF POLITICS

These days we often hear that India's political culture has been Congressised. It is said that even the BJP has fallen victim to Congressisation. This is a charge that cannot be denied outright. Perhaps because the party has grown so rapidly, there are elements that have internalized the corrupt ethics of the Congress. As a result, the BJP's ideological roots hold no great importance for such people. It is necessary to reiterate that the BJP is and must remain an ideological organization. We are in politics not for the sake of power alone; we are in politics to promote a robustly nationalist, transparent and accountable political ethos. The party's vision, inherited from the Jana Sangh, is Nation First. This has as much relevance today as it did when Deen Dayal Upadhyaya gave us the mantra. Those who put themselves, that is, the individual, above the nation have no place in the BJP.

However, the government's political immorality is not limited to the dogged manner in which it sought to protect tainted ministers.

The Congress Party resorted to foul tactics to pull down a BJP-led government in Goa and installed its own illegitimate government there. In Jharkhand it went a step further. It tried to annul people's verdict and convert the loser into a winner. In Bihar, it threw all scruples to the winds and got a newly elected Assembly dissolved because the people had refused to give a new mandate to a universally discredited regime, in which the Congress was a partner, that had brought the state under 'jungle raj'.

The point to note is that in all three states - Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar - the UPA government used pliant governors as its henchmen to murder democracy. In Jharkhand democracy was rescued only by judicial intervention. In Bihar the Supreme Court rightly held the dissolution of the State assembly unconstitutional.

Friends, as the UPA government continues to blunder and flounder; as it continues to disillusion the 'Aam Aadmi', in whose name it sought the mandate in 2004, with its non-performance; as the list of its unfulfilled and ill-fulfilled promises grows longer; and as newer and more sordid episodes get added to its record of political immorality, there is no doubt, as I said earlier, that the people will once again start looking for an alternative.

And the people will look once again to the BJP as the alternative.

Disillusionment with the Congress and the Communists will result in the phenomenon of the negative vote. But that is not enough. We would like the people to look to the BJP as the real, reliable and markedly better alternative. Which means, we should set in motion a parallel phenomenon of a positive choice in favour of the BJP. Let us not forget that this is how the people voted for us in 1996, 1998 and in 1999. They saw us as a Party, which stood for Good Governance and Development.

BIHAR BOOSTS COALITION DHARMA

The BJP is committed to reverse all measures initiated by the UPA to dilute India's security when it returns to power. Our stunning victory in the Bihar elections shows the people are disgusted with the misrule of Congress and its allies. The Bihar result heralds the NDA's impending return to the nation's helm. We have to prepare for this inevitability for the UPA Government may collapse earlier than expected on account of its inherent internal contradictions. Friends, the people of India must not find us wanting when that happens.

At this point, I must emphasise the importance of inculcating and internalizing the coalition dharma to preserve and promote the NDA. The BJP is not only the leader but also the moral force that binds allied regional parties to a national alliance. The successful NDA experiment helped us bestow a national perspective on our allies in various states. They were cemented together as part of a national mission. In the coalition era it is essential that we retain the NDA's cohesion. The BJP is committed to its ideological programme. Friends, it is worth recalling that between 1951 and 1971 the Jana Sangh generally went on its own. We refused to combine with other parties and insisted on retaining our purity. In 1972, Jayaprakash Narain made us rethink because he foresaw the danger posed to the nation by the fact that Congress was the principal source of all corruption and the advancing dark clouds of authoritarianism. He put a thought in our minds, namely, that ideology was important but idealism ought to be prioritized in certain situations. Thus we came together with anti-Congress groups to promote an anti-corruption and anti-poverty platform. This combination helped us jointly defeat the Emergency, and come to power at the Centre in 1977. If we look back, we shall see that the BJP emerged as the biggest beneficiary of that experiment. Just 20 years after the Janata party experiment collapsed, it was the BJP that headed the anti-congress formation in power.

BJP HAS MADE POLITY BI-POLAR

Indeed, the BJP's greatest success in these years has been to make India's polity bi-polar. Our distinct ideology and idealism has forced our opponents to club together in a desperate bid to stall our return to power. How else can we explain the hilarious spectacle of the Congress and the Left breaking bread in Delhi while stabbing each other in the back in West Bengal and Kerala? Does the Congress carry any credibility as an opposition force in these States? Everybody in these states knows they are the B-team of the Marxists. On their part, the Marxists growl in Delhi, but only threaten to bite. Everybody knows they are incapable of biting. The only principle that guides their domestic politics is anti-BJP-ism. The present scenario provides us with a great opportunity to grow outside the BJP's traditional areas. The South and the East shall soon emerge as our party's growth points. We must resolve at this Session to work tirelessly to make the BJP omnipresent in India including States where it has so far been unable to establish a firm foothold. We must put our best foot forward in the forthcoming elections in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and prioritise the party's forward movement in these States.

GUJARAT SHOWS THE WAY

In this context, I would like to cite the example of Gujarat to emphasise how the BJP can hold up a model of honest government and development before the entire country. Rarely in history has a Government and its leader been so mercilessly maligned by most sections of the media, a big chunk of the political class and foreign busybodies. Overcoming such relentless, savage attacks, Shri Narendra Modi has set a shining example of a transparently honest and effective government. That the people of Gujarat enthusiastically endorse his effort to provide good governance has been repeatedly demonstrated in a series of elections in recent months. The Government of Gujarat has successfully translated people's aspirations into reality and Shri Modi deserves unreserved compliments for his performance.

CHECK POPULATION, PRESERVE ENVIRONMENT

The BJP must continue to set the nation's agenda in the years to come by providing Good Governance in all States where we are in power, singly or in alliance. We must set exacting standards for ourselves so that people across the country are convinced that only the BJP can lead India to its magnificent destiny. It is a fact that unless our massive population growth is curbed, the fruits of development shall continue to get dissipated. We shall end up running harder and harder to stay in the same place. It is a disturbing reality that in 25 years, India will overtake China to acquire the dubious distinction of being the world's most populous country. Because of the excesses committed during the Emergency, population control became an unfashionable term and no political party has had the courage to deal with this issue upfront. But we cannot bury our head in the sands of time for ever. At least the BJP must set an example where it is in power and pursue norms that gain national acceptability.

A beginning was made with the introduction of family size as a qualifying clause for contesting panchayat and nagarpalika elections. Several States have made rules that debar people with more than two children from seeking elections to these bodies. I am told there is strong opposition to this on the ground that there is no such law for State Assemblies and Parliament. Arguably, this amounts to an anomaly. I believe we need an across-the-board law of disincentives. For that electoral laws disqualifying candidates with more than two children must be uniformly applied to all legislative bodies, panchayat upwards. A cut-off date needs to be agreed upon so that people are not unfairly debarred. But unless we start working towards a consensus, such measures shall never get implemented. I urge BJP Governments in the States to examine this issue afresh and devise appropriate policies to discourage runaway population growth. We have to generate public consciousness about the crying need to contain the unchecked growth of numbers so that population control is not regarded as an imposition but a social necessity.

Similarly, we have to be in the forefront to arouse people's concern for preserving the environment. This is related to controlling numbers. If population grows at the current rate, pressure on land and other finite natural resources will become unbearable. As you are all aware, groundwater levels are receding alarmingly in many parts of India.

The country's forest cover is dwindling with attendant consequences for rainfall, ecological balance, wildlife habitats and biodiversity. These are issues that should not be the exclusive preserve of NGOs, some of which have dubious origins. I believe these concerns must be reflected in the agenda of Indian politics and as usual, the BJP must take the lead. We must realize people's wellness cannot be measured simply by indices of industrial production or per capita income. When we speak of India becoming a developed country or great power, we also need to factor in the quality of life that we want to leave behind for our children.

MAGNIFICENT FUTURE AHEAD

Friends, at 25 a person graduates to grahastha from brahmacharya. Grahastha means acceptance of responsibilities, it means maturity. We in the BJP are also making this transition with the Mumbai Mahadhiveshan. We have to reverse the distressing descent of some members into the disreputable and corrupt Congress culture. Admittedly, their numbers are minuscule. But unless we resolve to stop this tendency altogether we will lose our proud claim to being a party with a difference. The BJP has a glorious past. But a magnificent future awaits us. We must seize the moment will all the conviction and passion at our command. We are the nation's instrument for transformation to a Great Power. We cannot afford to disappoint our one billion people.

Bharat Mata ki Jai! Vande Mataram!