Bharatiya Janata Party
National Executive Meeting 12th, 13th, 14th September, 2008
Late Jagannathrao Joshi Sabhagar
Shri Rajnath Singh ji, Shri Jaswant Singh ji and members of the National Executive,
Before I begin my remarks, I pay homage to the people who have lost their lives in the recent unprecedented floods in Bihar. This is not an ordinary flood-induced tragedy, which the people of Bihar unfortunately experience almost every year. This is indeed a national calamity of Tsunamic proportions. Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Shri Sushil Modi and their colleagues in the JD(U)-BJP Government in Bihar have risen to the occasion. However, given the gravity of the calamity and, especially, the nature of its causes, the Central Government must discharge its responsibility fully.
What the people of Bihar, Assam and other parts of the country that face floods almost every year are looking for is not just the routine 3-R strategy (Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction) but an effective P strategy (Prevention). If the people give the NDA their mandate to form the next Government in New Delhi, we shall immediately begin work on a comprehensive, long-term flood-control strategy. Wherever feasible, we shall also integrate the flood-prevention and drought-prevention strategies by reviving Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government’s ambitious River-Linking Project, which the UPA Government has callously abandoned.
UPA Govt must quit, call for fresh polls
I also pay homage to the victims of the serial bomb blasts in Delhi yesterday evening. Under the UPA rule, terrorists have no fear because the Congress party and its Government are gripped with fear — the fear of losing vote-banks —when it comes to taking uncompromising legal and administrative measures against terrorism. Their unwillingness and incapacity to fight terrorism and separatism have created an unprecedented threat to India’s unity and security. At the same time, the economic security of the common man is also threatened by the UPA Government’s failure to contain unprecedented rise in the prices of all essential commodities and services.
In short, the UPA Government has become a curse for the country and the common man. I hold the Prime Minister principally responsible for the Mega Failure (in the fight against price rise and terrorism), Mega Scandal (the recent “Cash-for-Votes” scandal which was a crime on India’s Parliament) and Mega Fraud (the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, the recent revelations about which are
i) violations of assurances given to Parliament ; and
ii) deception perpetrated on the people in respect of the deal providing light to every house in the country.
Dr. Manmohan Singh’s spineless Government has lost all legitimacy to continue in office even for a day longer. It must quit immediately, paving the way for fresh Parliamentary elections, so that the people can elect a new Government that has the determination and ability to address the grave challenges facing the nation.
Significance of 12th September and Bangalore in my life
My esteemed colleagues, the choice of Bangalore for holding this meeting, as also the date, September 12, when this meeting began, make me go down the memory lane. September 12 is an unforgettable day in my life. It was on this day in 1947 that I left Karachi, the city of my birth where I spent the first 20 years of my life, for good and came to this part of India after Partition. I remember vividly the chain of events that preceded my migration.
I had joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1942. On 5 August 1947, just ten days before Partition, Karachi witnessed the biggest ever rally of the Hindus in Sindh. I, as the secretary of the Karachi branch of the Sangh, had an important responsibility in organizing the rally. What made it truly historic was the presence of Param Poojaneeya Shri Guruji (Shri M.S. Golwalkar). His speech on that day instilled hope and courage among Sindhi Hindus who had felt totally betrayed and orphaned by the Congress.
My association with the Sangh continued in Rajasthan. I became a wholetime activist of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh after its formation in 1951. In my political life, I had the good fortune of working closely with Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. His personality, which embodied idealism, ideology and practical wisdom, had the greatest influence on my political life.
If migrating from Karachi and later joining the Jana Sangh were the early turning points in my life, the next turning point came on 26 June 1975 when, along with Shri Atalji, I was arrested here in Bangalore the morning after the Emergency was declared. My imprisonment lasted 19 months, mostly spent in the Bangalore Central Jail.
I have narrated this little bit of personal history because when I look back at my own life and at all the turning points in it (I count amongst them the formation of the BJP in 1980, the Ram Rath Yatra during the Ayodhya movement in 1990, the 59 - day Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra in 1997, to emphasise that swaraj had to be transformed into suraj, and the formation of the BJP-led Government in 1998 with Shri Atalji as the Prime Minister), I am filled with satisfaction that I have contributed my modest bit to the growth of our Party, and the promotion of our cause. I gratefully acknowledge the trust and cooperation I have enjoyed with countless Party colleagues in this long journey. Together we can take pride in the fact that we have demolished the one party domination of the Congress in India’s polity and made it essentially bipolar. We can also take pride in the fact that we have striven the utmost —
Our Party, however, has never lived in the past. We are alive to the challenges of the present and the future. We are aware of the duty that history has cast on us, and we shall never lose sight of it.
Karnataka, BJP’s entry point in South India
Friends, we have gathered here in Bengaluru at a very important juncture in India’s political history. The term of the 14th Lok Sabha is coming to an end. And with it will come to an end the tainted tenure of the UPA Government in office. With the exception of the Congress Government that imposed the Emergency in 1975, never before had an incumbent Government given so many reasons for the people to throw it out of power. The BJP and our allies in the National Democratic Alliance have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to provide the change the people are waiting for. We must not be found wanting.
For this very reason, the choice of Bengaluru for holding this meeting is very apt. We had resolved many years ago to make the BJP a ruling party in Karnataka. Our colleagues in Karnataka turned the resolve into reality in the Assembly elections that took place in June this year. I applaud Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa ji for his determined and popular leadership. Last week he completed 100 action-packed days in office. All I wish to say is: Keep up this momentum and do everything necessary to fulfill the expectations of the people. At the same time, avoid the wrong steps that brought disrepute and harm to the previous governments in Karnataka.
Success should remind us of another responsibility. Let Karnataka and every other BJP-ruled State set an example in proper Government-Party coordination, so that our Party workers — indeed, all our supporters and well-wishers in the constituency of our ideological fraternity — feel that it is their Government and they have a duty to ensure that its programmes and achievements are effectively communicated to the people. The costly mistakes we committed earlier, especially at the time of the NDA Government, must not be repeated.
Onward to victory in Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Delhi
Friends, the BJP’s spectacular success in forming its first government in South India, along with its earlier successes in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Bihar, has spotlighted how the political map of India has radically changed since 2004. The Congress party has lost power in state after state. Now, the time has come for it to lose power at the Centre.
Before we rout the Congress at the Centre, we have to ensure that it tastes defeat in the states that are scheduled to elect their new Assemblies in November this year. We have incumbent Governments in three of them — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Delhi is another state which will elect a new Vidhan Sabha at the same time.
All of us are well aware of the importance of these electoral battles. The BJP is in a good position to win renewed mandates in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, thanks to the good performance of their respective Chief Ministers — Smt. Vasundhara Raje, Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Dr. Raman Singh. We also have an opportunity to wrest power back in Delhi, where ten years of Congress rule have created an intense desire among the people to see BJP back in the saddle.
Nevertheless, I urge our colleagues in these four states not to spare any effort and not to neglect any task in preparing for the polls. In this context, two points must be clearly understood. Firstly, we must be attentive towards local-level anti-incumbency in certain constituencies. The damage-causing potential of this factor cannot and must not be overlooked at the time of candidate selection. Secondly, the supremacy of the chief ministerial candidates, under whose leadership we are contesting the elections, must be maintained. Voters do not like any inner-party bickering on this score.
There is a demand to postpone the Assembly elections in Jammu & Kashmir. We strongly oppose this, since doing so would send a wrong signal to the international community. I learn that elections may be held before the year-end. We must resolve to ensure good performance by the BJP.
UPA Govt’s betrayal of the aam aadmi and kisan
Friends, of late both the Congress president and the Prime Minister have been proudly claiming that the UPA Government has fulfilled all the promises it made to the people in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP). They are either in a make-believe world of their own or they think that the people are fools to believe them. What else can one say about a Government that is taking pride in the growing misery of the poor and middle-class families due to its failure to control price rise? As far as the aam aadmi is concerned, the burden of unprecedented price rise is the single most important reason for his wanting to vote out the UPA Government.
The UPA Government’s failure to check inflation is taking a heavy toll. Economic growth is slowing. As a result, employment opportunities for our young people are further shrinking. The housing boom for the middle-classes initiated by the NDA Government’s policies has come to a halt. Rising interest rates are hurting every sector of the economy, especially small and medium enterprises. For no fault of theirs, middle-class families are required to pay double the amount of EMI (Equated Monthly Installment) on the housing loans they took during the NDA Government’s low interest-rate regime.
The UPA Government’s much-trumpeted loan waiver for farmers has proved to be a propaganda gimmick, an ineffective medicine to cure a deep-rooted and systemic malady afflicting Indian agriculture.
The BJP and the NDA, if voted to power, will end the neglect of agriculture and the rural economy. We will also take expeditious steps to reverse the slowdown in the economy and, indeed, accelerate the rate of growth of GDP to double digits. However, GDP is an abstract concept that a common man cannot understand. I would like the Party to explain to the people our distinctive philosophy of GDP, in which G stands for Good Governance at all levels, D stands for Development for all and P stands for Protection of the country and the common man.
Kashmir: from “Special Status” to Separatism
Friends, in dealing with threats to national unity and national security, the current leadership of the Congress has shown the kind of callous unconcern that would have shocked many nationalist Congressmen of yesteryears. Consider how India has lost nearly all the strategic gains of the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh. The criminal apathy of successive Congress governments towards the menace of large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh has created a grave threat to India’s own unity and security in Assam and the rest of the North-East.
The Supreme Court, while striking down the IMDT Act as unconstitutional, has described the influx of Bangladeshis as “external aggression”. It has directed the Central Government to take effective measures to plug the loopholes that plagued the IMDT Act. The UPA Government has contemptuously disregarded this directive. Why? Due to the Congress party’s myopic politics of minorityism.
The same politics of minorityism was also at the root of the Government’s recent mishandling of the situation in Jammu & Kashmir — first buckling under the pressure of separatists to revoke the allotment of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board and later showing pusillanimity when slogans of secession rent the air in Srinagar. The Amarnath issue is neither Hindu vs. Muslim nor Jammu vs. Kashmir; it is Nationalists vs. Separatists. No words are, therefore, enough to show our gratitude to the patriotic people of Jammu for forcing a compromising Government at the Centre to at least partially rectify its earlier blunder.
The Amarnath issue has made one thing clear: today’s Congress leadership has mentally accepted that Kashmir is separate from the rest of India, and should be treated as such. This dangerous slide from “Special Status to Separatism” must be halted. Only the BJP and its allies can do it.
Firm anti-terror action will be part of our 100-day agenda
Esteemed Colleagues, yesterday’s terrorist acts in Delhi — as also the long chain of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country in the past 4-5 years — clearly indicate that a new phase in the terrorist war on India has begun. It has two distinguishing and disturbing features. Firstly, although terrorism’s global network continues to be the mastermind of this war, its local roots have spread wider. Secondly, it is receiving open support in certain sections of the political class, which was never the case earlier. We have a Government that is refusing to implement the Supreme Court’s verdict on death sentence for someone who is convicted in the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament. Two Cabinet ministers in this Government have publicly defended SIMI without being reprimanded by the Prime Minister.
These are dangerous portents. They underscore the heightened the responsibility of the BJP. Our Party will discharge this responsibility with a sense of urgency. If the people give us the mandate to form the next Government in New Delhi, we shall bring back POTA, recommend Presidential assent for state-specific anti-terror laws, and take other tough measures within the first 100 days.
How Congress has treated its most loyal supporters!
Let me also reiterate what I have said several times earlier: It is our adversaries, and not us, who are misrepresenting that the fight against terrorism is fight against Islam and the Muslim community. They are doing grave disservice both to the nation and to the Indian Muslim community. The BJP respects all faiths. We are totally against equating terrorism with any religion or community. We are also against subjecting innocent persons of any community to suspicion or persecution.
Here is another example of how the Congress party has been doing injustice to our Muslim brethren. The UPA Government has projected setting up of the Sachar Committee as one of its major achievements for the benefit of the Muslim community. The truth, however, is quite different — and unpalatable. The Sachar report’s only merit is that it has revealed how the Congress party has all along treated its most loyal supporters. Isn’t the Congress, which has ruled India for the longest period of the time, responsible for the poverty and backwardness afflicting a large section of Indian Muslims? And if this is how the Congress treats its most loyal supporters, one can make out how it treats others.
The BJP’s sincere and straight-forward message to our Muslim brethren is this: We care for all sections of India’s diverse society equally without any discrimination. We are committed to removing the curse of poverty and backwardness in every community. However, we firmly believe that religion-based measures to address these problems are both divisive and ineffective. What is needed is a spirited all-inclusive national approach, combined with Good Governance and Good Politics. The poor of all communities should have the first claim on the nation’s developmental resources. This approach, I believe, promotes both equitable development and national integration.
BJP must take the lead on the Telangana issue
Friends, speaking of the Mega Betrayals of the UPA Government, I must mention its betrayal of the promise to the people of Andhra at the time of the last Parliamentary and Assembly elections in 2004 that their government will form a separate Telangana state. Contrast this to the track record of the NDA Government. The people of Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh would always remember that it was the NDA Government that fulfilled its promise to them by carving out these three separate states.
An overwhelming majority of the people of Telangana want a separate state. BJP was the first political party to adopt a specific resolution in support of their demand. Because of our tie-up with the TDP during the NDA rule, we could not act in this matter. However, the situation has now changed. Today very few political parties openly oppose the Telangana state. Therefore, the time has come for the BJP to take the lead in this matter by quickly taking some concrete steps that can endear us to the people of Telangana and considerably enlarge the significant latent support we already enjoy in the region. I am sure that doing so will prove fruitful in the coming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh.
Five tasks before the Party
My Esteemed Party Colleagues, I have focused on the main features of the backdrop for the elections to the 15th Lok Sabha. As I have said, a failed and discredited Government — also the most corrupt Government in New Delhi since Independence — has provided plenty of reasons to be voted out. But the BJP must not be found wanting. This entails five main tasks for our Party organization.
First, the entire Party, from top to bottom, must immediately come into a “Must-Win” mode, with unity in thought, unity in strategy and unity in action.
Second, the BJP has to take the lead in strengthening the NDA — and also expanding it in the coming days. It is the need of the hour, especially in those states where the BJP is yet to grow into a formidable force. Sound alliance politics requires a proper mindset, which is sometimes lacking. Let us remember that the BJP’s front-runner position in the coming Parliamentary elections will be greatly strengthened by our alliance-building capabilities.
Third, no other party in India has as many leaders who, as individuals, are admired for their talent and expertise. What our karyakartas and the people at large would like to see is Team Effort, which will multiply the effect of our leaders’ individual talents. Our conduct must reflect what Party workers and Party supporters expect of us.
Here I must be frank in saying that I am deeply upset by the tendency exhibited by some people to speak out of turn and even make public statements about prospective alliances and other aspects of our election strategy. Does this happen in any other party? These and other negative trends that give rise to the perception of disunity in the Party must be firmly curbed. Internal democracy in the BJP is our strength. It should not be allowed to become a handicap.
Fourth, people place their faith in that opposition party which not only highlights the Government’s failures, but also presents its own positive agenda showing how it proposes to tackle the issues on which it is criticizing the Government. The BJP shall soon prepare an inspiring and comprehensive Agenda for Good Governance, Development and Security. I invite thinking people all across the country to contribute their ideas and suggestions to this effort.
Fifth, I am happy that the Party has already embarked upon a major activity to reach out to young first-time voters, who will form a decisive segment of the electorate. This activity should be further intensified. Our message has the power to win the hearts and minds of Young Indians. They will shape the future of our Nation. They will also shape the future of the BJP.
Here let me mention the highly useful role that all our Morchas - not only the Yuva Morcha but also the Mahila Morcha, Kisan Morcha, Scheduled Castes Morcha, Scheduled Tribes Morcha and Minorities Morcha - can play in reaching out to different sections of the electorate. Our Cells, such as the Legal Cell, Doctors’ Cell, Teachers’ Cell, etc, also must become more active. In recent months, some good programmes have been undertaken by several of them. These efforts need to be become more intensive and extensive in the days to come.
I would also like to appreciatively mention here the many useful initiatives undertaken by our Parivar organizations. Recently, more than 100 activists of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch undertook a unique Paigam-e-Aman Yatra from Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi to Hazrat Bal in Srinagar to mobilize support for the Amarnath issue.
Friends, I do not know how to conclude my remarks. But there is something I wish to share with all of you at this very important meeting of the National Executive as we prepare for the big electoral battle.
I miss the presence of Shri Atalji. I miss his guidance and his companionship. Today, I sometimes feel lonely in the discharge of the responsibility that you have entrusted to me. I need your support, the active and enthusiastic support of each one of you. A historic mission, which is by no means easy to accomplish, is beckoning us. Together, we can, we must and we shall, win again — as we did in 1998 and 1999.