The nation is not safe till UPA is in the saddle
The Congress has ruined the country.
Time now for a paradigm shift in politics.
Think of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. When I submitted a report on this aspect to the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, he first said it is a state subject how can the centre spend money on it? But he took a bold decision and sanctioned a Rs 60,000 crore scheme within eight days. The decision to expand the National Highways into four lanes was also taken by the Vajpayee Government. He gave credit cards to farmers. If Vajpayeeji can do it why not this government? I asked 14 questions to this government. But it failed to answer any of them. The nation has been ruined due to wrong economic policy and bad governance by the UPA.
We have to motivate the workers for serving the needy and downtrodden. There is a need to develop social consciousness and responsibility. If we are able to bring a positive change in the life of a needy person, it will be our biggest contribution in national development. We should get involved in politics as a sensitive social worker.
Our supporters are very emotional and they get disturbed with even minor problems. Apart from it, a section of the media runs a sustained campaign against us, which further demoralises us. Since we have to go a long way, we need to develop patience and tolerance. I tell the workers not to look at things through the prism of the media and have patience and trust.
The Congress-led UPA government is not eradicating poverty, it is eradicating poor people. This government cannot do anything better for the people or the nation. They just know how to divide the society in the name of caste, religion or community. They are indulging in vote bank politics through appeasement. Now they have started appeasing even the terrorists. Why is Afzal not hanged? This government has totally surrendered before the terrorists. They joined hands with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections.
NITIN Gadkari has an easy charm about him. His disarming simplicity, earnest, pro-active approach and down to earth manners have earned him many new admirers. He is essentially a professional trying a paradigm shift in politics. He talks of training the party workers on voluntary service activities, taking up rural reconstruction, taking care of unorganised sector, helping people displaced by rapid urbanisation and growth stand on their feet, and move along with the society marching forward, giving a refreshing sense of participation in the political odyssey.
The BJP president visited the editorial office of Organiser and Panchjanya as part of his hands on approach, to understand first hand the working of various institutions in the country. So far he has taken up many such visits in different parts of the country, which he characterises as very useful. He believes in making grass roots contact. During his visit he had a two-hour long chat with our editorial team. Organiser editor R Balashankar and Panchjanya editor Baldevbhai Sharma with correspondent Pramod Kumar, interviewed him on the occasion and elicited his plans of rebuilding the party. Given below is a brief account of the conversation:
As party chief now Delhi is your headquarters. How is your experience in Delhi?
The induction of younger workers in the organisational set up is a routine exercise in the BJP. Everyone has his role and importance. But the basic structure and the spirit remain the same. We all are party workers and we have to work with this feeling only.
I am new in Delhi. Experience-wise also, I am junior. In spite of all that, all the party workers and senior leaders accepted me wholeheartedly. We are working together. This change took place very smoothly in BJP because it is different from all other political parties. With the growth of the organisation there might have been some problems, but our original strength, structure and set up are qualitatively different from others. I am getting full cooperation of all.
Your appointment sent a positive message across the rank and file. What changes do you feel the party requires today?
We did not get expected results in the Lok Sabha elections. But BJP is still a strong political power and it has seen many ups and downs. There was a time when we had only two MPs and the Congress leaders used to ridicule us as ham do hamare do. Even Atalji lost the elections. But we recovered from all those situations. The Congress also was once reduced to 114 seats in the Lok Sabha. Once it had won 425 seats. We need to study all these ups and downs carefully. I have studied them. This is a fact that the Congress still retains some part of the ground that it gained before 1947. But after Independence it repeatedly divided the society in the name of caste and religion to keep its vote bank intact. This is the ground reality.
On the other hand our vote percentage is smaller compared to the Congress. We need to work hard in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and some other states. We did not lose the Lok Sabha elections due to any differences in the party. There might be some reasons at political level but the media gave them unnecessary twist as confusion in the party. But they were not the only reasons. We need to increase our strength with a positive approach. New people have to be associated with the party. The sections of the society which are still not with us have to be brought to our fold. I have appealed to the workers to concentrate more on the Scheduled Castes and weaker sections. We are also the followers of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, we are against untouchability and casteism, samata and samarasata are part of our life-convictions and we want to establish socio-economic equality in the society.
In Scheduled Tribes constituencies the BJP is the front runner already?
Many of our workers are doing admirable work among Scheduled Tribes. Deendayalji gave us this vision of serving the needy. We believe the day we are able to ensure roti, kapada and makan for all, the vision of Deendayalji will truly be fulfilled. We have to concentrate more on the issues related to both the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It should be done as a positive social work.
There are many areas in the country where the BJP is weak?
We believe in one nation, one people. We want to take this message to every corner of the country. We are opposed to terrorism. A criminal is a criminal, his religion has nothing to do with it. He does not belong to any caste, religion or language. Similarly, a terrorist is a terrorist; he does not belong to any caste, religion or language. We want to create unity and harmony. Love for the motherland is the only criteria. We don’t look at our people as vote bank. If we were anti-Muslim why would we have made Dr Abdul Kalam the President of the country? We are not against Muslims at all. I feel it is time to take all nationalist and patriotic people with the party.
When we talk about development, prosperity, progress, alleviation of poverty, employment generation, it is not for any particular section or community. It is for all the countrymen. I appeal to Muslims also to seriously think what has the Congress done for them in the last five decades? Our opponents have always tried to create misunderstanding about BJP.
Do you still swear by Common Civil Code, Article 370 and such issues which make you different from other parties?
Common Civil Code is for the betterment of all. But the continuation of Article 370 in Kashmir will benefit none. Where in the world is there special provision for the people of a particular region? If we all are one, why this special status to some? We all are part of a single society and we share the same legacy, culture, history and ancestors. Only moving ahead together will ensure our progress. I think if people are educated properly on the issue of Article 370, they will surely come with us. After assuming the office of party president I met many leading journalists, thinkers, literary persons and social leaders of the country and they all took it very positively. It is my experience that if the matter is explained in a proper way, misconceptions get cleared.
Making the nation prosperous from all angles is the agenda of our ideology and conviction. We have to concentrate on all the issues whether it is water, power, transport, communication, agriculture, industry, education, moral education, etc. We are preparing a vision document for development of the nation underlining our priorities for next 25 years.
What is the BJP’s development plank?
All elite sections of the society including Chartered Accountants, doctors, professors, lawyers, journalists, industrialists, traders, teachers-all sections are to be brought to the party fold. These are basically the people who understand information technology, bio-technology, economic policy of the 21st century and the factors of development well. We want to transform the present politics into the politics of national reconstruction, socio-economic transformation and social service for the benefit of the last person of the society. We believe that power politics cannot benefit the country and politics should be an instrument for socio-economic betterment.
The professionals and intellectuals should be brought to the party fold as Friends of BJP. This message should reach across the country. We are fighting against poverty, but many times I ask why the suicide by farmers not become an inspiration for us to save the agriculture? Since crores of people do not have food to eat, should it not become our inspiration to save Indian farmer! Crores of youth do not have employment, should granting them employment not be our priority? The Naxalites and Maoists are killing the innocent people and they have challenged our whole system. Should fighting against them not be our priority? Both our internal and external security are under threat. Should it not be our political priority? Instead of thinking about individual interest, ambitions, ego and career, welfare of the deprived people should become our priority. Doing all this, if in the process, we get power anytime in the life it is okay, otherwise also we will continue to work with the same spirit and dedication.
What are the other areas of concern for you? How do you propose to tackle urbanisation related issues?
The unorganised sector of the society also needs immediate attention. The number of such people has increased manifold in metro cities during the last few years. Many cycle rickshaw pullers suffer from TB. Can we not reduce their sufferings by organising medical camps for them? I have been working for non-conventional energy and agriculture for the last seven years. Can we not change the life of deprived people through this traditional energy and swadeshi science? Yes, we can do it and should do it as a priority.
Many of our workers are already engaged in such constructive activities. During the Indore convention, about 175 workers displayed their projects. This number is expected to increase up to 1000 by the next convention. We have to motivate the workers for serving the needy and downtrodden. There is a need to develop social consciousness and responsibility. If we are able to bring a positive change in the life of a needy person, it will be our biggest contribution in national development. We should get involved in politics as a sensitive social worker.
How do you plan to train your party workers for the kind of new politics you are aiming at?
It is a very important aspect. We have prepared a list of 17 subjects for it. We are in favour of modernisation not westernisation. We talk about e-learning. Education, training and research & development have to be emphasised. I am going to take some concrete steps for it. We have arranged two acre land in Delhi where we are going to set up a big project worth Rs 25 crore for research & development. We want that a committed work force should emerge from this centre.
Through this new orientation are you planning to make a shift away from issues like Sri Ramjanmabhoomi?
We don’t treat Sri Ram temple as a political issue. It is the issue which should be taken as a matter of faith of crores of people. It should be the national agenda of the country and not be treated as the agenda of a particular party. We want all political parties including the Congress find a solution together. We all believe in Sri Ram and his temple should be built in Ayodhya. It is a matter related to the sentiments of the countrymen and we don’t want to make it a political or election agenda. It should be above politics.
Do you see a solution in the near future?
The place where Sri Ram was born is one and cannot be other. Only Sri Ram temple should be built there. The Muslims can build a mosque at any other place than the janmabhoomi and we shall extend every possible help to them.
The BJP organised a very huge rally on price rise in Delhi recently. The BJP is talking of the whole country but the Congress concentrates on vote-politics. Will it work for you?
The Congress had promised to reduce price rise in 100 days. But they cheated the country on it. They have been talking about poverty alleviation but there has been total disappointment on it also. Rather the number of poor increased manifold. The reports of five committees-Tendulkar Committee, Sengupta Committee, Saxena Committee, World Bank and Asian Development Bank Reports, confirm it. The Planning Commission report also says the same thing. About 41 per cent population have been added to the BPL category. If the Congress has been claiming to alleviate poverty, why is the number of poor increasing?
The Congress disappointed the country on all fronts. Not only the number of poor increased, the inflation and price rise also touched sky high. Inflation is below 2 per cent in 25 countries of the world, but it is 11 per cent in India. The price of essential commodities is higher in India than many other countries of the world. During the Janata Party government there was no inflation or price. Similarly, during the Vajpayee government there was no inflation and price rise. But whenever the Congress came to power the inflation and price shot up. The poverty, farmers’ suicide, unemployment, inflation and price rise are not related to any caste, religion, community, language or region. These are related to wrong economic policy and bad governance. Today, we need better irrigation, seed management, loan on low interest, good technology, agro-processing industry, but the UPA government is busy in creating Special Economic Zones.
Think of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. When I submitted a report on this aspect to the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, he first said it is a state subject how can the centre spend money on it? But he took a bold decision and sanctioned a Rs 60,000 crore scheme within eight days. The decision to expand the National Highway into four lanes was also taken by the Vajpayee Government. He gave credit cards to farmers. If Vajpayeeji can do it why not this government? I asked 14 questions to this government. But it failed to answer any of them. The nation has been ruined due to wrong economic policy and bad governance by the UPA. The situation will not improve till they are in power.
The general belief is that there is no difference between the BJP and the Congress on Economic Policy?
There is a wide difference. It is basically a misconception. When Dr Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister some people thought that he would give a new direction to the nation. But the 14 questions that I had asked have not been answered till now. There is huge production of foodgrains in the country, but we do not have godowns and the wheat is rotting in the open. Why? Today we have only one third of the storage capacity required for storing the foodgrains. Why is the government not able to build the sufficient number of godowns? More than 100 godowns with one lakh MT capacity could have been built with the money that the UP Chief Minister wasted on her memorials. The nation wants answers to all these questions.
Irrigation comes under state subject. It should be brought to the centre and the way Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana was started a similar national project should be started for irrigation also. If we are able to ensure more irrigation in the country our foodgrain production will increase three-fold. The Vajpayee government had formulated a detailed project for interlinking the rivers, but this government scrapped it. Even Dr Abdul Kalam wanted to give it a priority this government did not pay attention to it. Today there is no water in the Cauvery. If the water of the Ganga and Brahmaputra reached there, a big part of the country would have been benefited. The agriculture production would have been increased. If it happened, has the migration from villages to metro cities been there. They are migrating due to lack of employment. Fact is that the Congress repeatedly neglected the rural economy, agro industry and the poor right from 1947.
How do you assess the prospect of your party now?
The BJP is still a good party. Deterioration has been seen in every field. The people active in BJP too are part of the society. When the mass base of the party expands and people from different sections come, there may be some deterioration in quality. It does not mean that there is change in our basic structure and ideology. We have to think that the basic structure of the party should be strong and the ideology as well as the organisation are given priority. The unique nature, culture and mission are our identity and they should be maintained. We will be able to maintain it through extensive training programmes, research and development activities. There will be a positive change once again. The legacy that we inherited from Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya, Dr SP Mookerjee will remain intact.
On the issue of price rise the NDA is seen united inside the House but not outside it. Why?
All the constituents of the NDA are united. We are different political parties. Therefore organising all functions together is not possible. We are definitely one in Parliament on this issue. The question of price rise is not a political one, it is a problem related to the survival of the poor man of this country. We all are fighting for getting relief for the people.
What are the three biggest mistakes of Dr Manmohan Singh Government?
First, their Foreign Policy is wrong. Nepal is our friend, but the UPA is not able to nurture it. Despite repeated terrorist attacks our dialogue with Pakistan under US pressure is going on which is wrong. Russia was our friend since long, our dealing with it also not fair, again under the US pressure. The government has totally failed on Kashmir issue. As far as the Economic Policy is concerned it is a total failure. They are not eradicating poverty, they are eradicating poor people. This government cannot do anything better for the people or the nation. They just know how to divide the society in the name of caste, religion or community. They are indulging in vote bank politics through appeasement. Now they have started appeasing even the terrorists. Why Afzal is not hanged? This government has totally surrendered before the terrorists. They joined hands with Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections. They are not only extending red-carpet welcome to Bangladeshi infiltrators, but ensuring voting rights also for them. The nation is not safe till they are in power.
Once the BJP used to have a committed vote bank but now there appears a dent in it also. How will you regain it?
I think it is the problem of mindset. We still have very committed voters across the country. Today we have governments in nine states. We also have 165 elected MPs, almost equal to the Congress. Then, why this mindset only about the BJP? When the family increases, certain problems definitely occur. We should not get disturb due to them. Our supporters are very emotional and they get disturbed with even minor problems. Apart from it, a section of media too runs a sustained campaign against us, which further demoralises us. Since we have to go a long way, we need to develop patience and tolerance. I tell the workers not to look at things through the prism of the media and have patience and trust.
It appears that the Congress has launched a campaign against Shri Narendra Modi and some other CMs of BJP ruled states. What do you think?
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has today become the Congress Bureau of Investigation, which is being misused to blackmail the opposition parties. The CBI and other agencies are being misused with bias against Shri Narendra Modi. It is a political conspiracy. Many people are involved in it. BJP does not believe in this kind of negative and vindictive politics. We will fight against it with our full might. Shri Modi is an exceptional Chief Minister. He has set an ideal on the front of development. There were riots in Mumbai also in 1992. Why there was no SIT then? The innocent Sikhs were inhumanly killed in 1984, why no SIT came for investigation? It is total misuse of power by targeting Shri Modi and the other Hindutva leaders. By doing it the CBI has lost its credibility and sanctity. The judiciary is also being misused against opposition leaders.