BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
Shri Nitin Gadkari
BJP National President
National Council meeting of the BJP Indore (Madhya Pradesh) – 18 February 2010
Dear delegate brothers and sisters,
As I stand before you at this meeting of the National Council of the Bharatiya Janata Party, I am overwhelmed by happiness, humility and pride. There are moments in one’s life when words fail to adequately express one’s emotions. This is one such moment in my life, the most important indeed.
I am happy because I can feel the tidal wave of enthusiasm and energy of the delegates of my Party who have congregated here in the historic city of Indore. It is you who bring the hopes and the aspirations, as also the dedication and determination, of millions of party karyakartas and supporters across the length and breadth of our great country. In you I see the same commitment to serve the Motherland that I had seen when I, as a young Party volunteer, had attended the founding conference of the BJP in Mumbai in 1980.
I am humbled by the enormous trust and confidence that the National Council has reposed in me. I had never in my life expected that I would be called upon to shoulder the responsibility of serving as President of this great party. I know, and I will state it without any hesitation, that there is no dearth of persons with requisite leadership capacity in our Party and there are many other leaders who too could have shouldered this responsibility. Yet, the party leadership and you unanimously elected me to occupy this position. I, as a disciplined soldier of the Party, accept this responsibility with a sense of mission.
Why this moment fills me with immense pride is because the honour of presiding over the BJP has been bestowed on somebody who is basically a Karyakarta. I do not have a pedigreed surname. I do not even belong to a political family. I was born in an ordinary family in Nagpur. I learnt my first lessons in patriotism and social service in RSS and ABVP.
A Party of karyakartas
When I say that I cut my teeth as a ward-level political worker by canvassing for the Jana Sangh, in my early teens I am not telling anything new to you. Many of us have started from activities like wall-painting and poster pasting. Remember, for you and me when we move in cities like Mumbai traveling in crowded trains is a regular affair since we all are common citizens who routinely experience the daily suffering of the common commuters.
The journey of my political life is by no means unique to me. Indeed, all the past presidents of the BJP were committed karyakartas who grew up from the grassroots. Therefore, I regard my becoming the Party’s all-India president as a tribute to the BJP’s proud tradition of being a party of karyakartas. BJP is not a party controlled by a family or a dynasty and this is what distinguishes the BJP from most political parties in India, where the highest office is being treated as the birthright of members of a particularly dynasty. This is what underscores the BJP’s deeper commitment to the ideals of democracy. This is what we mean when we say that the BJP is a Party with a Difference.
Our glorious heritage: Sacrifice of Dr. S.P. Mukerjee and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya
My first duty is to pay my most heartfelt respects to the immortal memory of Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, whose life and teachings have inspired us since the beginning of our political journey in 1951, when the Bharatiya Jana Sangh was born. Their vision will continue to guide us forever.
Proponent of the Ekatma Manva Darshan or Integral Humanism, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay was one of our visionary founding fathers. It was he who established that the spirit of nationalism and upliftment of the down trodden together can evolve a political philosophy and attract all sections of the society. Through his untiring efforts he created a niche for a political party for all patriotic people.
Today I seek the blessings of the two tallest leaders of my party, whom I have always regarded as my ideals ─ Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Founder-President of the BJP, and Shri Lal Krishna Advani, who has made a seminal contribution to the growth of the party. Respected Shri Atalji can no longer actively participate in party activities due to his age and ill health. However, his legacy of wise and balanced approach to national affairs, his widely adored personality, and his enormous contribution to nation-building as one of India’s best Prime Ministers, make him a source of strength and pride for the BJP. With all of you, I pray for his good health.
It is my good fortune that I can count on Respected Shri Advaniji’s margdarshan. As someone whose own political yatra began with the formation of the Jana Sangh, and who has witnessed and participated in almost all the major developments in national politics in the past six decades, Shri Advaniji is a rare link which connects the past and the present of the BJP. His dedication, selflessness and tireless service make him a leader to emulate by the younger generation of political activists.
My sincere and respectful thanks to Shri Rajnath Singhji, my immediate predecessor. He ably provided leadership to the Party when our organisation was facing several challenges. On behalf of the entire party, I wish to place on record our appreciation of his service.
Today it is my bounden duty to remember with gratitude many great leaders of the party, who are no more but from whom I received inspiration, encouragement and political training. I offer my deep respects, my aadaranjali to the late Kushabhau Thakre and Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia. I also pay homage to the countless ordinary karyakartas who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of the Party. Thousands of party workers have been working for our Party without expecting any position for years together and I salute them at this occasion.
What I have learnt from the great leaders as well as the ideal karyakartas is the motto that guided their lives: NATION FIRST, PARTY NEXT and SELF LAST. This has been, and will continue to be, our guiding principle. I urge all my party men to follow it, since this alone can enable us to become better servants of the people and make the BJP a better instrument of nation-building. Remember that Nationalism is our inspiration, development through Good Governance for Antyodaya, our ultimate goal.
Indore: Seeking inspiration from Ahilyabai Holkar
The BJP believes that political office is not a piece of ornamentation. Rather, it is an opportunity to perform one’s duty of serving the people righteously and selflessly without any discrimination. Indeed, a person occupying high office must treat even his or her own near and dear ones on par with others. I am reminded of this as our National Council is meeting here in Indore, the city that has immortalized the hallowed memory of one of the greatest rulers in India’s history ― Punyashlok Rajmata Ahilyabai Holkar. I pay tribute to this Philosopher Queen of the Malwa kingdom, whose devotion to justice was legendary. She did not hesitate to order the killing of her only son under the elephant feet for indulging in gravely criminal activities. An embodiment of wisdom, goodness, firmness and virtue, she worked tirelessly for the upliftment of the common people, especially the tribal communities. India is now a democracy. However, from ideal rulers like Ahilyabai Holkar, we should learn the lessons of impartial and fair approach for good governance and people’s welfare.
After reaching Indore, I also visited MHOW, the birth-place of Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to pay my tributes to his memories. Dr. Ambedkar was a true Humanist who gave voice to the voiceless. His life best teaches the values of social justice and Samajik samarasata. I offer my adaranjali to this towering leader of all of us.
Let us build on our achievements!
Friends, the National Council is meeting at a time when important developments are taking place both at the national and international levels. Some of these developments have far-reaching significance for India, presenting both daunting challenges as well as historic opportunities for a big leap forward.
Our Party too faces stiff challenges, which we must candidly admit, objectively understand and resolutely overcome. However, let the challenges before the BJP not cloud out from our view the real opportunities that we have. Let us strive collectively to overcome the recent temporary setback and bounce back with renewed vigor. Let us not forget that we are a Party with presence in every nook and corner of this country. We have our own governments in six states and we are governing in alliance in another three states. In another three states we are the Principal Opposition party. We have been in power in about 20 states at one time or the other. Let us now build upon what we have achieved so far. There are some states where we are yet to become a significant political force. Let us win the confidence of all sections of the society in every part of our country and make every effort to give our fellow countrymen what they deserve: Good Governance!
The world order is fast changing in favour of Asia
Our party is synonymous with Nationalism. Bringing back the lost glory to our motherland is our duty. And this we have to do against the backdrop of the transformation that is now taking place in the world order. The global domination by the West --particularly by the United States of America-- is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Last year’s financial meltdown and economic recession in western countries is not to be seen as a minor downturn. They have had a deep impact on their economic activities. Unemployment is high. Western countries are waking up to the unsustainability of high-cost, wasteful and excessively consumerist lifestyles – not to speak of the unsustainable levels of military spending to maintain their global hegemony.
As a consequence, the centre of gravity of the world economic order is irreversibly shifting from the West to Asia. Undoubtedly, China has been a big beneficiary of this change. But the fact that India also can quickly emerge as a major global power is now being recognized by more and more people around the world. No major problem affecting the world -- climate change, global economic slowdown, restructuring of the global financial architecture, or how to tackle the scourge of international terrorism -- can now being discussed without seeking India’s participation and cooperation. I regard this change as a historic opportunity for India, perhaps the greatest opportunity since Independence. This is the opportunity to rise as a strong and prosperous nation that has a strong voice in the comity of nations.
We in the BJP must recognize this opportunity. Let us evolve an appropriate response that reflects in our political activities, our policies and in the functioning of our governments, including local bodies. We are an India First party and have no hesitation in extending support and cooperation to the central government, and non-BJP governments in various states, wherever and whenever they are taking the the nation forward in the direction of this historic new opportunity.
Situation in Nepal
BJP considers Nepal not just our neighbour but an integral and revered part of our civilisational community. It is abode to the sacred and mighty Himalayas who are both a sustainer and protector of our civilization. The BJP is as committed to the security, well being and progress of Nepal as it is to India's We are deeply concerned over the troubled situation in Nepal. The BJP urges the Govt of India to reestablish the closest possible fraternal bonds between India and Nepal and defeat the evil designs of foreign and foreign aided forces, hostile to both the peoples.
Needed: A common national approach to strategic issues
While saying this, I also want to urge the leaders of the United Progressive Alliance to adopt a nationalist approach, based on dialogue and cooperation with the opposition, on all strategic issues affecting the vital interests of the nation. They failed to do so at the time of forging the Indo-US nuclear deal; and again while evolving India’s stand at the Copenhagen climate change summit. They also failed when the financial crisis in the West impacted India’s economy severely. Unfortunately, the same attitude of not taking the opposition into confidence continues in respect of two critical issues that have a direct bearing on the unity, integrity and security of the nation. Incidentally, both have their origin in the grievous mistakes committed by the Congress governments in the past. Because of these mistakes ― which the Congress leadership of today refuses to acknowledge ―, India has had to pay a heavy cost and suffer hugely for the past several decades.
The first concerns India’s relations with China. The BJP favours friendly, good neighbourly and cooperative relations with China, as befits two ancient Asian civilizations. However, now that China is emerging as a global power, its attitude towards India is far from being friendly. Because of China’s intransigence, there has been little progress in the talks to resolve the border dispute. On the contrary, Beijing’s totally untenable and unacceptable claim on Arunachal Pradesh is being frequently expressed in many offensive ways. Recently, our own government has admitted that China has made incursions into Indian Territory in other stretches of the border. This cannot be taken lightly, as the government indeed seems to be doing. China’s growing military presence in India’s neighbourhoods, including reports of Beijing’s plans to set up a military base in Pakistan, are also a matter of concern. The BJP demands that the government hold appropriate consultations with the opposition on a strategic approach to India-China relations. BJP believes that China will appreciate the fact 2010 is not 1962. Peaceful co-existence is the only way for the two historic civilizations to engage with each other. At this point let me share with you that we have appointed a Five Member study group headed by our former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Shri. Bhagatsingh ji Koshiyari to look into the lurking threats to our border with China.
Jammu and Kashmir
The second important issue is that of Jammu and Kashmir. For all Indians, and especially for any BJP worker, Jammu and Kashmir has become the symbol of sacrifice. It was here that Dr. Shaymaprasad Mukherjee dedicated life for the true spirit of National Integration. On the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the UPA government is heading in the wrong direction, with dangerous implications for India. It seems to be yielding to external pressures for compromising India’s long-held position that J&K, including Pak-occupied Kashmir, is an integral part of India. Within J&K, the National Conference-Congress coalition government is taking an accommodative approach to Pak-supported separatists. Far from making any moves for complete constitutional integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India, the UPA government appears to be coming round to the view that Kashmir deserves to be treated separately. From this position, yielding to actual separation is but a step away. The BJP warns the UPA and cautions our countrymen, including right-thinking people within the Congress party and its allies that the present course of events will lead to the logical culmination of the original blunder committed in 1947. We will never let this happen. We are prepared to make any sacrifices for ensuring that J&K remains an integral part of India. ----In this context, the Party reiterates its strong opposition to any composite dialogue with Pakistan at this juncture.
While on J&K, I wish to make another important point. In recent times, there has been much debate on whether or not Mumbai belongs to all Indians. This is a needless controversy. My position, and the position of the BJP, is very clear. All of India belongs to all Indians, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, ethnicity and language. We firmly believe in the constitutional guarantee under article 19(1) (e) giving us the right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India. This provision aids and enables national unity and integration. It is on the basis of this principle that we have always stood for complete constitutional integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the nation. We have always recognized linguistic, regional and religious identities as a reality of India but all these identities eventually converge into a larger national identity of Indianness. There is absolutely no question of any conflict in these. I am, however, both amazed and saddened that no leader of the Congress party has stood up to say that, just like Mumbai, Srinagar also belongs to all Indians and that Indians from other parts have the same rights of domicile and employment in Kashmir. In the least, the Congress party, which is in power both at the Centre and in J&K, must take all the necessary steps to ensure the return of lakhs of forcibly displaced Kashmiri Pandits to their own homes.
Vote-bank politics is intensifying threats to India’s internal security
The BJP believes that national security, external or internal, is always above narrow political or social considerations. Our Party has a proud tradition of supporting the government of the day whenever India’s security is endangered. Similarly, when the BJP-led NDA government was in office at the Centre, it actively sought the views and cooperation from other parties in evolving its responses to issues of national security. This healthy tradition should be strengthened by one and all.
In view of the developing security environment in our neighbourhoods, India’s defence preparedness must not be lowered under any circumstances. Utmost vigilance and more effective strategies are also needed to tackle the twin threats to India’s internal security ― namely, jihadi terrorism and Naxalism. The government’s performance in dealing with terrorism in its first stint was absolutely disastrous. The Pak-sponsored 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai forced it to correct some of its mistakes. However, the manner in which the investigation into the 26/11 attack is being carried out raises grave doubts. There are reasons to believe that the government seems to be uninterested in probing the local links of the planners and perpetrators of the attack.
The bomb blast in Pune is a stark reminder of the fact that pampering of suspected terrorists nullifies the element of deterrence of our internal security regime. Besides, such pampering also is an insult to the memories of those police officers who have sacrificed their lives fighting terrorists. Some Congress leaders have converted suspected dens of terrorists as places of Political Pilgrimage. Repeated visits of politicians to those areas have emboldened the enemies of the nation. Secondly, our diplomatic initiatives with Pakistan lack clarity, consistency and firmness. On this entire backdrop and especially after the blasts in Pune I must put the BJP’s firm view that talks and terror never can go together. The UPA must realize -- and I am sure there are some nationalist minded leaders who would appreciate our view -- that when terror stalks India, not talking with Pakistan is a legitimate diplomatic option. Unfortunately, the UPA government is not continuing the Vajpayee government’s policy of building a broad international consensus against terrorism that could isolate the ideological sponsors of jihadi terrorism. The international community must be made to recognize that Pakistan’s ruling political and military establishment is relying on jihadi terrorism as an instrument of achieving secession of Kashmir from India. Therefore, any legitimacy given to Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir is a sure way of weakening India’s battle against terrorism.
I am constrained to note that the Congress party is refusing to view the threat of terrorism without short-term vote bank considerations. For example, senior leaders of the party are publicly endorsing claims that action by the Delhi police at Batla House, in which a senior officer was killed, was a fake encounter. The BJP must, and the BJP will, continue to raise its voice of warning and protest against the Congress-led government’s wrong approach to dealing with the issue of jihadi terrorism.
No faith based reservations
Votebank politics is also having a free run in the haste with which both the Congress and Communists are proceeding to introduce religion-based reservations in education and employment for Muslims. The BJP supports every effort for socio-economic development of our Muslim brethren through greater spread of education. Indeed, their backwardness is an eloquent testimony to how the Congress party has only exploited them for its own political gain. But the concept of religion-based reservations goes against the letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution. Besides, it does not even lead to the all-round development of the community as a whole. Rather, it is a divisive move that will harm the unity and integrity of the country in the long run, besides encouraging religious conversions. The move to extend the benefits of reservation to Dalit Christians will also have the same harmful effect. The fact that the Congress and some other parties are disregarding even court orders in this matter makes the matter more serious. The government must not go ahead with religion-based reservations. The BJP will oppose any such move tooth and nail.
The Naxal threat
Naxalism, the second major threat to India’s internal security – indeed, to our democratic system itself ― must be countered with a firm hand. Both the theory and practice of Maoism are completely alien to everything that India holds in high esteem. Let us not forget that foreign forces are actively fomenting unrest in India and encouraging Maoists to exploit the situation. The BJP urges the government to show absolutely no lenience towards Maoist leaders. We also urge the so-called civil rights activists not to dress up this murderous ideology in clothes of legitimacy. Of course, all-out efforts should be made to accelerate pro-poor and corruption-free development in areas affected by Naxal violence.
Situation in the North-East
The BJP is worried about the situation in Assam. The state government continues to develop cold feet while dealing with terrorist and secessionist elements as also the Bangladeshi infiltrators. In the case of Assam, after the Assam Accord, was signed between the Centre, the State, and the All Assam Students Union (AASU), with its thrust on detection, deletion (from voter's list) and deportation of illegal migrants, a deadline of 31 March 2010 was set for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).This so called updating is an eye wash as the fact remains that the original NRC itself is not in proper order. We believe that a new NRC is the need of the hour. How long would the Congress-led governments at the Centre and the State wait before Assam witnesses creation of a region of foreign nationals within its own boundaries? In view of the forthcoming elections in Assam, we very strongly demand that both the Central Government and the Election Commission must ensure that no Bangladeshi infiltrator is allowed to vote.
BJP is naturally concerned as Manipur also continues to be in the grip of terrorist groups. Here, the government machinery is completely paralyzed and public life is continuously allowed to be held hostage by the underground terrorists. In so far as developing infrastructure for development in this region is concerned, the Government has done precious little even after the creation of DONER ministry.
I must also attract your attention to the fact that the Government’s weak kneed approach has already affected the moral of our internal security establishments. Be it jihadi violence or Maoist violence, an important question that the nation must debate and come to the right conclusion is this: Do the police and security forces who sacrifice their lives in battling these anti-national elements not have any human rights?
Lack of a holistic vision of development is weakening India
Friends, when I see the unrest and conflict in society-- be it due to some identity issue or issues like growing number of the poor, unemployment, starvation, and unabated suicides of the farmers I ask myself: “What is at the root of these problems?” The two conclusions that I have come to are that, firstly, all these problems are rooted in the wrong economic policies and bad governance that have plagued our country almost since Independence. Secondly, the solutions to these problems cannot be found in a piecemeal manner to satisfy this or that section of society. Ours is a nation of immense diversities. Every section of our society has legitimate aspirations. But the fulfillment of these aspirations has to be a part of the holistic approach guided by what is good for the nation as a whole. Harmony and balance are the cornerstones of the architecture of every creation of Mother Nature. Why shouldn’t the same be true about the human society?
The harmonious development of individuals and society was the hallmark of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s treatise of ‘Integral Humanism’, which the BJP regards as its guiding philosophy. Unfortunately, it is nowhere to be seen in the scheme of things of policy makers in our country. The Congress party, which has ruled India for the longest period since Independence, has followed policies that have resulted in severe imbalances in development. These imbalances are both social and geographical in nature. In our march towards economic prosperity, often our people are encouraged to violate the ethical traffic signals, with the rich and the powerful leading the way. This is a harmful impact on the moral, social and cultural fabric of India.
The first and foremost task in correcting India’s development imbalance is to follow the principle of Antyodaya ― eradication of abject poverty, provision of the basic necessities of every Indian family, and ensuring that the last man in society gets the first opportunity to rise in life. This is what Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Deendayal Upadhyaya and other saintly figures in India had emphasized. Long before I entered politics, I was moved by the following lines from Sant Tukaram. I continue to seek inspiration from these lines even today.
Je kaa ranjle gaanjele, tyaasi mhane jo aapule!
Tochi saadhu olakhaava, Dev tethechi jaanaava!!
(One who embraces the disadvantaged and opppressed, the downtrodden and the suffering as his own, is a true saadhu or a pious person. God dwells in his/her abode.)
Therefore, I urge all my party men to rededicate themselves to the ideal of Antyodaya
Let me share with you that we have recently launched an innovative Campaign namely Antyodaya Abhiyan. This is a campaign that promotes politics for development through social work. We want all our party workers, our organisational units as well as all our elected representatives at every level to take up at least one Service (SEWA) and Development (VIKAS) project in their respective areas. Through this our workers should try and reach out to the disadvantaged effectively. It has always been our thinking that Politics is the instrument for social and economic transformation. We all are now expected to make a resolve and reinstate the element of Sewa in the political culture of this great nation. If you make a determined effort, you can easily take up such activities and derive satisfaction of serving the last person in the queue. We will have a proper mechanism set up within the party to train our workers, guide them and to monitor their work. A monograph outlining the concept and methodology of Antyodaya Abhiyan is being published. We have also put up an exhibition of some illustrative Seva projects here at the venue of this national council meeting.
The key to Antyodaya at the public policy level is in enabling the economy to produce gainful and sustainable livelihoods. In the Indian context, it means that the test of success of economic growth is whether our agriculture and rural economy are so revitalized that productive employment and high quality of life are ensured in rural areas. We must admit that India has not passed this test. The huge and rapidly growing divide between cities and villages, and also the disparities within cities and villages, is a matter of concern.
Is this not Garibi- Badhao?
The failure of the Congress policies has been affirmed by official sources themselves. A committee headed by Prime Minister's Economic Advisor, Dr. Suresh Tendulkar, has revealed recently that the population of the poor in India has increased by 12 per cent. Furthermore, it has stated that poverty in rural India stands at 42 per cent, and not 28 per cent as was estimated earlier. Contrast this with the stark fact that, in recent years, the wealth of a small section of India’s rich has increased astronomically. Is this not a warning signal that a policy review is needed?
A similar disclosure has come last week from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), whose data punctures holes in the UPA government’s tall claims about their achievements. UNDESA data has revealed that, in 2009 alone, 1.36 crore more people became poor. This shows that the Congress-led government, far from achieving the goal of ‘Garibi Hatao’, has actually succeeded in ‘Garibi Badhao’.
Unchecked price rise is distressing both the poor and middle classes
Further, this government has squarely failed in stopping suicides by distressed farmers. Failure in providing jobs to the unemployed coupled with rising prices has made life miserable for many of our disadvantaged countrymen. I must emphasise here that it is not the poor alone who are rendered vulnerable by the wrong policies of the government. The middle classes too are getting impoverished by skyrocketing prices of all essential items. In the run-up to the last parliamentary elections in May 2009, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had promised that his government would unveil a 100-day action plan to roll back prices. He seems to have completely forgotten his promise. Indeed, the rise in prices since the return of the UPA to office has been the steepest in recent history. It’s as if our Economist-Prime Minister has completely lost control over ― and even interest in ― bringing the prices down. Rather than taking firm and effective anti-inflationary measures, the government is about to raise the prices of petrol and diesel, which is bound to have a cascading effect on the entire economy. While the woes of the aam aadmi are increasing, the government has begun an internal blame-game; with Congress leaders blaming NCP leader and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar for the price rise, and vice versa. In the process, the cardinal principle of “Collective Responsibility” of the Cabinet has been thrown to the winds. The BJP puts the onus squarely on Prime Minister Dr. Singh and the UPA Chief Smt. Sonia Gandhi for the government’s failure to reverse the price rise. Remember; whenever Congress government is at the Centre, prices rise and people suffer whereas whenever there is a non-Congrss government, essential commodities become cheaper.
I must also point out here that a huge Commodity Exchange Scam has added to the price rise. Against the turnover of Rs.4.5 lac crores, actual delivery of the essential commodities at the Commodity Exchanges is less than 1%, i.e. less than Rs.4, 500 crores. The speculative, manipulative transactions at the Commodity Exchange created hugely artificial volume of the essential Commodities like Wheat, Sugar, Chana, Jeera, Potato and this has added to the price rise. We have already demanded a probe by setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee into this Maha Ghotala.
The quality of the performance of UPA during the last eight months after it got a renewed mandate has raised several questions. Does this government really want to check rising prices of essential commodities? Is this government capable of preventing suicides of farmers? Can this government effectively end growing unemployment?
India needs a new model of development and governance
Friends, since we are a party in the opposition at the Centre, it is our duty to oppose and resist the wrong policies of the government. We shall perform this role resolutely. Nevertheless, the people expect more from us. As a party that has governed at the Centre, and that aspires to do so again; it is also our duty to evolve practical solutions to the multifarious problems that India has been facing. Neither the people nor we are happy with India’s socio-economic development, which is full of imbalances, and also with its governance, which is full of corruption and inefficiency. As I have said earlier, most problems before the nation have very little to do with caste, creed, language or such other factors. They are rooted in the wrong policies of development and wrong kind of governance. I must point out here that to day, the nation has an energy shortfall of 55000 Megawatts and we have no stocks of coal for power generation under the 12th plan. This Energy Deficit is making this great nation development starved, thanks; mainly to the absolute lack of foresight.
We in the BJP are proud of the initiatives and achievements of the NDA government. Now, based on our experience of governance at the Centre and in the states we should conceptualise, propagate and implement an alternative model of development and governance. I regard this to be one of the most important tasks before the Party.
Let me share my thoughts on this subject. India has come a long way since 1947, when under the influence of the Soviet model; the government gave state-run enterprises primary role in the nation’s economy. The past six decades have seen an enormous growth in the capabilities of India’s entrepreneurial class. The same period has also shown that, by and large, governments cannot run economic activities efficiently. It is time for India to abandon the old model completely by redefining the role of government in economics. The government's duty is confined mainly to strategic planning, legislation of sound laws and their effective enforcement. The actual business of performing economic activities should be left to non-governmental enterprises.
When I talk of enterprises, by no means do I refer only to big corporates. Our small and medium enterprises have immense potential, which, unfortunately, has been stifled by wrong policies and insensitive governmental functioning. Even the enormous energy of cooperatives has been smothered. Moreover, government enterprises have been reduced to grazing grounds for corrupt politicians ― which is evident in the manner in which the Prime Minister has allowed his colleagues to loot national resources in civil aviation, telecommunications, textiles, coal and mining and other sectors. Further, unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats have formed a nexus with unscrupulous businessmen, and this has resulted in an alarming spread of corruption and criminalization at all levels. Unfortunately, even law enforcement agencies and sections of the judicial system apparently have become a part of this nexus. Breaking this nexus, and encouraging healthy entrepreneurship, ensuring lawful and people-focused economic growth, has to be the objective of government’s role in the economy.
‘Gaon Chalo’: BJP’s new vision of technology-enabled Gramodaya
Ending the systemic neglect of agriculture and rural development is the first requirement of an alternative economic model for India. The goal of ‘Gramodaya’ was very dear to both Mahatma Gandhi and Deendayal Upadhyaya. Congress leaders paid only lip service to rural India. They neither truly understood its potential nor cared for its needs. The foremost requirement today is to redesign government policies to ensure a massive flow of public and private investments into agriculture and rural infrastructure. Capital should be made available to farmers and rural entrepreneurs at low cost and on easy terms. This can help augment land and water resources, set up value-addition agro-processing and develope new high-yielding farm practices, including organic farming. A number of rural infrastructure development works can be taken out of inefficient government departments and entrusted to rural entrepreneurs and farmers’ bodies with people’s supervision. Rural areas should have the same priority for power supply as urban areas.
I would like to emphasise another important requirement of an alternative development and governance model. In spite of the Congress party’s tom-tomming of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, there has been no effective financial and administrative empowerment of panchayati raj institutions and municipal bodies. I am, therefore, of the view that at least 10% of the Central tax revenues should be transferred directly to gram panchayats and municipal bodies. Similarly, funds under the Special Component Plan for the SCs and Tribal Sub-Plan for the STs, should be fully devolved for the welfare of these communities and utilized with their democratic participation.
Esteemed party colleagues, I am stressing the need for unleashing Rural India’s growth potential not out of bookish learning but out of practical experience. For example, encouragement to rural tourism and wildlife tourism has resulted in good roads and hotels being built by local entrepreneurs even in certain tribal areas. There are examples to show that a cow, a Neem tree and a family make a sustainable economic unit.
The goal of India’s alternative development model should be ― “GAON CHALO”. Rural India will begin to bloom with the provision of good roads and public transport, world-class telecom and IT facilities, 24x7 power supply, availability of pre-cooling plants and cold storages near markets, water and other basic needs, efficient financial services and market connectivity. This will attract new types of high-skilled and high-value enterprises in rural India. The new advances in information technology, bio-technology, nano-technology and energy-saving and material-saving sciences in the 21st century indeed hold the promise of decentralizing and dispersing production and other economic activities. The compulsions of environment protection have made this a global imperative. Therefore, all our policies should be geared to hasten this transformation. Not only should we stem distress migration of rural populations to urban areas, but also create conditions for urban people to go and live in India’s Modern Villages. Let the BJP become the harbinger of this New Vision, appropriate to the needs and conditions of the 21st century.
Agonies of the unorganised labourers
Friends, let me also attract your attention to the problems faced by those in the unorganized sector. Agriculture labourers in rural areas as well as hawkers, taxi and rikshaw drivers, construction labourers, porters and vendors in urban and semi-urban areas are facing innumerable survival threats. BJP notes an urgent need to pay attention to their grievances. Let me also touch upon the condition of Traditional Artisans, particularly the five subgroups of Viswakarma community, viz. Blacksmith, Carpenter, Bronze smith/Coppersmith, Sculptor and Goldsmith, the descendants of the divine architect, Lord Viswakarma. The Central government has numerous schemes for handicrafts but none of them cover the interest of all these traditional artisans. Their grievances need to be attended as they are the largest segment after agricultural labour.
Our Performance in Governance
Friends, I am happy to note that BJP-run state governments are actually moving towards realizing the vision of Antyodaya. Gujarat has succeeded in supplying 24x7 power supply to all its villages. Its recent initiative of holding Garib Kalyan Melas is also very commendable. Bihar too has made a remarkable progress under the NDA government there. Here in Madhya Pradesh, Ladli Lakshmi and several such schemes have achieved a remarkable success. Chhattisgarh government's success in accomplishing the Herculean task of improving the Public Distribution System deserves compliments. Karnataka Government is perhaps the first State Govt. to have prepared a Vision 2020 plan and started implementing the same and I compliment the state for this. Similarly, Himachal Pardesh under BJP rule is likely to become the first Carbon-neutral state while Uttarakhand has ambitious plans for energy generation. In Punjab too we are taking new development initiatives and I am sure our new Jharkhand government will also perform well. This certainly should not make us complacent and we must further better our performance in governance. If we come across some examples of good governance in non-BJP states, I am sure we will try to replicate them and strive for a quality transformation in Governance.
Some new initiatives
Let me now dwell upon some new initiatives that I plan within the party organisation.
We are planning a major nationwide campaign for building the capacities of our party workers, party functionaries and elected representatives at every level. This Prashikshan Maha-Yojana will be given a final shape very soon. I expect every Party worker to participate in our training programmes and serve the party in a more result oriented manner. We are planning a three phase structured Training Programme for party workers. Comprehensive syllabi for all major sections of Party rank and file will also be drafted very soon. We are also launching e-training programmes. It must be stated here that while selecting Party workers for shouldering responsibilities, their ability, their capacity to deliver the goods will be given more importance and hence it makes sense to get trained and build our capacities. I call upon all our State Units to try and set up Training Centres as well as Research and Development wings within the Party units.
We will also be reviewing the performance of all, our Party office bearers at various levels; elected representatives, MPs and MLAs and even ministers. Those who perform will be rewarded. We are planning to institute awards at the national level to the best performing MP, MLA or MLC and even municipal councilor and a Sarpanch. A detailed scheme for this will be unveiled soon. This will send a right signal that performance gets rewarded leading to some inspiration for non-performers as well. As I have indicated earlier, Performance will be the key to an individual’s progress in our Party. I appeal all our Party organisational units as well as elected representatives and even governments to prepare your own Annual Performance Reports. Writing such reports will not only help us promote greater accountability but also let Party organisation asses one's performance.
We are also planning to revive Friends of BJP, an associate organisation of the non-member Well Wishers of the party. All patriotic citizens, especially all young professionals who look forward to BJP as an instrument of making India a resurgent republic are welcome to join this forum.
We will also be using all modern communication technologies to galvanise our party. We know the limitations of technology and nothing can replace person to person contact. And yet, we will launch a project Technology for Political Mobilization in a phased manner. We will reach out to the younger generation through the avenues they commonly frequent and through technology provide them a vehicle for their political participation.
Through this, I appeal all our State governments to revisit their Youth Development Policies and come out with programmes with greater emphasis on employability enhancement of the youth.
I take pride in the fact that while there are many women-led political parties, BJP is the only Party that has 33% reservations for women within the organisation. But quotas alone are not enough. All our brothers will have to change their mindset and ensure that women are given grater scope and are helped in every way for their own empowerment. Our society will be empowered when women are empowered.
In the sphere of public policy as well as Party organisation, Nationalism, Development, Poverty Alleviation, Ethical Values and Discipline would be the cornerstones of our positions. We will try to develop a culture of cohesiveness in the organisation but will also have zero tolerance to indiscipline. Let us remember that we are seen very rightly as a party with conventional values and ethics and it would not be proper for us to tolerate any form of corruption anywhere.
Ram Temple at Ayodhya
The BJP stands fully committed for the construction of a grand Ram Temple at Ayodhya. There has been a big national movement for this in which many Karsevaks lost their lives as well. Litigation is also pending for resolution of this dispute which may not offer a perfect solution because one party would lose and the other may win. Today I appeal to the Muslim community to be generous towards the sentiments and feelings of Hindus and facilitate the construction of a grand Ram Temple. This would herald a new amity and reinforce the bond for a resurgent India.
BJP’s INDIA VISION 2025
I believe that India has all the resources, natural as well as human, to grow to its full potential. We can indeed create a better tomorrow, with our own resources, to provide education for all, healthcare for all, housing for all, employment for all, and a better future for all the billion-plus people of India. If this has not been possible so far, it is due to a lack of good policies and good governance. However, it is not enough for the BJP to just criticize others for following wrong policies; rather, we should take the lead in presenting superior policies. We should not just talk about the problems before the nation, but be in the vanguard of offering practical and effective solutions.
With this in mind, I have decided to constitute a group of Party workers and supporters to prepare an INDIA VISION 2025 document. The group will comprise senior leaders of the Party who have served in important positions in the central government, serving and former chief ministers and ministers in state governments, MPs, MLAs and mayors, and also domain experts who are sympathizers of the BJP. I appeal all our supporters and others as well to send me their suggestions for this Vision Document.
I also take this opportunity to appeal all of you to leave no stone unturned to reach out to the underprivileged sections of the society such as the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minorities in a big way. People are waiting for political workers who would respond to their agonies and aspirations. They are keen to join us provided we connect with them. Remember, we just can not afford to fail. Let us make a collective resolve to increase our vote share at least by 10% by breaking new grounds and taking new initiatives.
Let us remember that India can not become a super power just because we all want it to be. We will have to work for transformation. We will have to revisit our objective for being in public life. Why should we seek inspiration only from getting a party post, a ticket in elections or a berth in the ministry, etc? Can we not derive inspiration from the higher purpose and power of politics ― such as the desire to bring a smile on the faces of underprivileged brethren; to end the distress of farmers that has forced thousands of them to commit suicide; to eliminate malnutrition that is killing tens of thousands of tribal children; to create employment opportunities for our talented youth? Isn’t the goal of making India a strong nation once again powerful enough to motivate us?
My dear Party colleagues, the path ahead is not easy for us. It is full of challenges, some of which I have tried to highlight in my remarks. We should neither expect quick success, nor work with that motive alone. We should neither get disheartened by temporary setbacks, nor get overjoyed by immediate achievements. Our yardstick of success is how much, and how fast, we move in the direction of making India achieve all-round progress and regain its glory and greatness.
Our vision is to build an India that is free of bhookh (hunger), bhay (fear) and bhrashtachar (corruption), and also free of vishamata (inequity) and anyaay (injustice) of all kinds. We want to build a New India that is swavalambi (self-reliant), samarthyavaan (capable) and parakrami (achiever of impossible feats). We want to build an India that has peace and harmony within, and strives ceaselessly for peace and harmony in the entire world. An India whose ancient intellectual-material prowess, cultural light, civilisational genius and spiritual force is revived and taken to unprecedented new heights…. Remember, the 21st century undisputedly is that of India, our great Bharatmata!