The BJP can never be a family firm | Ravi Shankar Prasad
Today it rules the country with a clear majority. As the party turns 38, time to reflect on the highs and lows of a momentous journeyopinion Updated: Apr 06, 2018 14:46 IST
The BJP was established on April 6, 1980 and the party celebrates this day as Sthapna Diwas. It is an important day in the calendar of our party. It is an occasion to reflect on and rejoice in our achievements and also renew the pledge to carry on our mission.
We recall the prophetic words of Atal Bihari Vajpayee after becoming the President of the BJP in 1980: “Andhera chhatega, suraj niklega, kamal khilega” (The darkness will go; the sun will rise; the lotus will bloom). Today the BJP rules the country under the inspiring leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a clear majority. It is also in power, directly and through allies in 21 states, with 15 chief ministers and eight deputy chief ministers. It has truly become a national party, governing nearly 70% of the country. Indeed, under the leadership of party president, Amit Shah, the BJP has expanded across all regions to become the world’s largest party in terms of members.
This historic journey has not been easy.
The saga of sacrifice began soon after the Jan Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, was founded in 1951. The founding president, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a veteran parliamentarian, died in mysterious circumstances in Kashmir in 1953 where he had gone to lead the movement for the complete integration of the state of Jammu & Kashmir with India.
At the time, leaders like the great ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Vajpayee, Nanaji Deshmukh, LK Advani, Sunder Singh Bhandari, MM Joshi and Kushabhau Thakre were in their 20s or early 30s. They had a mission, and sought to work for a country where development must be based on equity, growth and good governance.
Still, in the party’s initial days, most other parties did not take the Jan Sangh seriously. However, the party kept growing. It formed coalition governments in some states, decisively fought against the Emergency (1975) under the leadership of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) and ultimately became a part of the Janata Party to form a government led by Morarji Desai. The government and Janata Party could not survive long. The BJP arrived on the horizon on April 6, 1980.
The journey since has also seen highs and lows. In the 1984 election, the party was reduced to just two Lok Sabha seats. It grew rapidly after that, though, under guidance and leadership of Vajpayee and Advani to renew the pledge of cultural nationalism and the espousal of genuine secularism as against the pseudo-secularism of the Congress and caste-based parties. In my opinion, that gave the BJP the central space in the polity.
The rise culminated with Atal Bihari Vajpayee becoming the prime minister of India. He led a popular government which brought in reform, development and also had the courage to establish India as a responsible nuclear power. But the party suffered an unexpected defeat in 2004. I think the 10 years of UPA rule that followed dented the country’s image because of malgovernance, corruption and non-development.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the people of the country reposed their full trust in Modi’s leadership to redeem India and take it progressively on the path of development.
Today, under Modi, India is recognised as a global power and Modi as a global leader. India’s voice is heard with respect on the global stage. Our government has created new benchmarks in good governance, novel development models and schemes for the development of the poor, farmers and the deprived, adopting the principle of inclusive development with the powerful slogan of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (with everyone and for everyone’s progress) and, lastly, transforming India through technology, infrastructure development, investment and honest governance.
The BJP is very clear that it will not become a family dispensation. Even ordinary workers now become a chief minister and can aspire for any higher post. Two classic examples of it are a chai wala becoming the prime minister and a pradhan sevak who started as a booth-level worker now heading the world’s biggest political outfit.
The most noticeable feature of the BJP’s rise has been that earlier it used to be the Congress versus the rest. Now, many political parties, including those which have ruled the country for more than 50 years, are seeking alliances against the BJP.
Ravi Shankar Prasad is Union minister for Law and Justice; Electronics and IT
The views expressed are personal