An Open Letter to BJP Members of Parliament
Many of us worked very hard for the victory of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Many proclaimed that they had worked hard for the victory of the party in 2014; many others who had equally worked very hard, chose to keep silent about it, continuing with their work of consolidating the mandate. They did not blow their own trumpet, nor did they lament that they were silent workers. The joy of being able to lend a hand in pushing the juggernaut of change surpassed all other emotions and/or expectations that they may have entertained. The one who toiled, willed, exerted and sweated it out most was of course, Narendra Modi, the leader around whom all hopes hinged, the leader who personified and articulated the hopes of millions.
Many had been struggling against the UPA rule in Parliament and outside since it had assumed office in 2004. Though some among them have now begun making exaggerated claims saying that they were at the forefront of this struggle, the struggle against the UPA was undertaken by many and on many fronts. Our Chief Ministers, for example, played an important role in establishing a narrative of good governance and even in those difficult and trying times, were carrying on with good work. Foremost among them was Modi. Far from enjoying the fruits of office, as some have averred, Modi laboured, under an extremely intimidating national environment perpetuated by a hostile Congress and its controlling family, to provide the State and people of Gujarat with a model and vision of governance that eventually triumphed and caught the attention of the entire country and of observers across the world. The Gujarat model became one of the principal sustaining pillars, one of the main narratives of the campaign for change in 2014.
Countless millions were naturally delighted with the results of 2014 and saw in it the beginning of new and transformative phase in the history of India. They backed and continue to back the Prime Minister and his team with full faith in his vision of a ‘New India’. The Government has completed about four years in office; it has presented as many as five Budgets and has made full use of all opportunities given to it to show results. At the end of it, the overwhelming feeling — among those who have their ears and nose to ground — is that the promised change has started taking place. We have continued gaining the confidence of the voters, widened our acceptability and are firmly ensconced and marching on the path of change that we had delineated in 2014.
The economic situation is picking up, the decade long adverse economic inheritance from UPA-I & II is now being undone. Our Forex reserves have hit a record high of $ 424.86 billion, unbiased observers and industry bodies peg India’s growth for 2018-19 at 7.3-7.7 per cent, industrial output is on the rise, the NPA and other baggage, all results of a decade of UPA misrule, are being addressed, and a system of checks and balances is being installed. The investment climate has improved, the spirit of entrepreneurship as opposed to handouts has received a fillip, small industries are receiving greater support and corruption and frauds have taken a beating. Especially, cronies and crooks promoted in this sector by the UPA dispensation are having a tough time and those that got away are being justly hounded. Modi’s zero tolerance towards corruption is having its desired result; however, since the rot is deep and has been left unaddressed for so long, the process put in place to clean and sanitize the system will be a long and arduous one. But keeping in mind Modi’s penchant for battles, one is certain he will emerge victorious in this one too.
Friends, do not, therefore, be swayed, by unsolicited advice and by negative readings of the situation, especially if they emanate from disgruntled and dissatisfied quarters.
In the last four years much has been done to bring to the fore the societal challenges faced by women while in a number of areas of our national life one has also seen an increasing assertion by women who are becoming examples to be proudly emulated. One of the first flagship initiatives that Modi launched, and one with which he continues to be most attached, is Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, a movement to transform and alter mindsets. The evil of rape needs to be seen by everyone as an evil that requires uprooting and not used as a political tool to attack a certain leader and demonise and heap calumny on a whole community. It is the habit of selective outrage in order to politicise what is a social evil which is cause for concern. The minorities, especially women from the minority community are feeling liberated and empowered, while politics of minoritysm is gradually disappearing. There are many who feel threatened by such a disappearance. The disappearance of minoritysm risks closing their shops. As he had promised in his first speech in Parliament, Modi’s administration has perhaps done much more than many other governments in the past as far as empowering and equipping the Scheduled Castes and Tribes and the weaker sections of our society is concerned. Indeed, Friends, you have the largest contingent of SC/ST MPs. With himself having risen through the ranks, Modi has dedicated a substantial part of his energies and focus on empowering the weaker sections; his politics does not use them as tools for promoting political confrontation and conflict.
The sum total of our foreign policy is that it has firmly established India’s imprint and capacities across the world not as a supplicant power but a power which cannot be ignored or taken for granted any more. Astute diplomacy has opened many doors and possibilities for us. The relationship dynamics with China have altered with us making our presence felt, Pakistan’s desperation is evident and its every move is being resoundingly responded to. Pakistan is facing greater international isolation. The situation in Jammu & Kashmir is being resolutely handled and not an inch is being ceded, while Left Wing Extremism is shrinking and is in its death rattle.
Internal democracy in the party is strong. The process of consultation and confabulation continues. So democratic has the BJP become that some of its self-proclaimed senior members write columns inciting the party’s MPs to revolt against the party president and the Prime Minister! They also break bread with maverick Opposition leaders who keep abusing Modi and are working to form an anti-Modi front. Those in the know tell me MPs are free to meet and speak to the Prime Minister, that the Prime Minister meets them in batches, that the party president keeps in touch with the rank and file, and that the need for performance, for accountability and for delivering on the responsibilities and assignments given are the order of the day. Empty promises and half-hearted actions have no place in the party today. The new party headquarters has become a symbol of pride for countless karyakartas who have grown with and worked for the party. It reflects, as the party president has reminded all of us, the sacrifice of countless karyakartas who have made the BJP into what it is today.
The most important threat that has emerged in the last four years is to our democratic institutions and democracy. This threat emanates from the Opposition, especially from one party and family, which was reduced to a rump in 2014 — the Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi and his mother. The Congress’s first family always takes defeat personally and when in Opposition habitually tries to obstruct and hamper the democratic workings of our institutions, tries to create confusion, generate societal conflict and tarnish our Constitutional institutions and offices. Its recent move to impeach the Chief Justice of India exposes its disdain for the pillars of our democracy and more importantly for our Constitutional framework. In its desperation to oppose Modi, Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party has constantly stalled the functioning of Parliament. Even during Atalji’s time, it left no stone unturned to stall Parliament, to try to insult and embarrass Atalji who, like the Prime Minister today, had always tried to ensure the smooth working of our parliamentary institutions. Friends, do not fall for those who say otherwise, who exhort you to believe that it is you who are responsible for the session’s washout and not the Congress party.
Friends, do not let poisonous whispers fill your ears at this penultimate stage of your term; you have worked as a team to ensure the success of our Government. Instead, let the Opposition introspect on what has been its role and performance during this period. Let the Congress introspect on why they were reduced to a 19 per cent vote share and to 44 seats after having ruled for a decade. Ask the Congress party whether they have adequately introspected on their crushing defeat, ask them why they continue to be driven by an overweening arrogance. Do not fall for the 31 per cent argument; in every election, there is a percentage that votes differently. Look at yourself as a collectivity. Even in 1984 at the height of the Indira sympathy wave, the Congress could poll only 49 per cent of the popular vote, which meant half the country didn’t vote for it. By the 31 per cent logic, even Nehru was never Prime Minister of the whole of India, was he? Discount this specious argument.
Therefore Friends, stand united. Do not believe those who say that the Opposition will unite against you; it will never unite, it is too confused, too disparate, too plagued with distrust, dissension and deceit. Do not let your attention be diverted or energies wilt. The bell for the final lap has rung, it is time to grit your teeth, clench your fists, to breathe hard, to not look behind and focus on the finishing line where victory awaits. The situation demands that you stay united, coherent, and focused in the national interest. If you fail to do this now, it will be a great disservice to the country and future generations will not forgive you. It is your democratic duty to protect the mandate of 2014 and to see it reiterated with an even greater margin in 2019. Remember, you are all part of this transformation; you are all constituents of this change. The interest of the country supersedes all other interests, and it is in the interest of the country that you work together, you pool in your energies as you have done these past four years and stand by the leader who has tirelessly, without reserve, without respite, toiled to actualize the vision of a new and self-reliant India.
I am appealing especially to the respected elders in the party, who have inspired generations of karyakartas, to come forward in national interest and to see to it that the values and the ideals of this party which have seen reinforcement and rootedness in the last four years continue to be protected. Some with deeply entrenched vested interests, who are consumed by their own arrogance, ego and incapacity, are now attacking these values. Those who attack these values are essentially betraying the cause and ideal of the BJP, it does not matter what post they may or may not have held in the past. Friends, be alert, do not succumb to their motivated readings; these actually emerge from the depths of deep despondency.
There have been no failures; on the contrary, the big successes overshadow all minor hiccups. I hope you will consider the issues and points I have raised as well as my appeal in this letter. I hold no post in the party and am a very ordinary karyakarta trying to silently do my bit in a positive spirit of affirmation. I do not aspire to post or office, my only objective has been to see that the mandate of 2014 becomes a resounding springboard for a greater leap in 2019, that the Prime Minister’s vision of a New India becomes reality, that India becomes once more the leader of the world — Visva Guru — and that the BJP as a movement gains greater strength and momentum, eventually becoming a formidable instrument for catapulting India to the next age.
Please be courageous, be alert, stand firm, save democracy by strengthening the hands of your leader and of your Prime Minister. Be alert against various nefarious designs and conspiracies to destabilize the country. Stand firm to save the vision of Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat.