From Anil Nair in Mumbai
Mumbai Silver Jubilee
It couldn'thave happened better. The Bharatiya Janata Party Silver Jubilee celebrations in Mumbai had all the hues, the sound and fury of a mela. The whole suburb of Mumbai where the mahaadhiveshan was held, had a festive look. Most of the activists and state representatives from all parts of the country had come in their regional attire and some even in tribal finery. The highlights of the huge congregation of BJP party workers and leaders were the resolutions passed at the end of each session, which were accepted by the BJP delegates with vivacity and zeal.
Party President Shri Lal Krishna Advani at the outset said this would be the last national executive meeting that he would be presiding. Shri Rajnath Singh has been named by the party as the next Party President. Shri Advani'sspeech at the inauguration of the national council meeting was filled with condour and a bit of nostalgia. He took time to expatiate on the ideology of BJP and its relevance in current political context. On the issue of cow protection he hailed Shri Narendra Modi'sgovernment in Gujarat for having passed a law against cow-slaughter. He also implored all the delegates to go through the Supreme Court order which upheld the Gujarat government'sban on cow and buffalo slaughter. ?The Supreme Court judges have cleared all the points of debate on the issue. The depth of their argument, their insight and logic in that order is remarkable and impeccable. I would beseech everyone present here to read that order carefully,?? he said.
He mentioned the Volcker Committee'spreliminary investigations, which found Shri Natwar Singh and the Congress party to be beneficiaries of the under-hand oil deals with Saddam Hussein. Shri Advani said Shri Singh always averred that he did not do anything in the party without the knowledge of the party president and sought her approval for every small thing. ?In that event who signed those oil coupons on behalf of the Congress party??? he asked in his usual understated style.
Shri Advani also talked about the victory of BJP in the recently held municipal elections in Gujarat where BJP won 96 out of 129 seats beating all previous records.
The other highlight of the mahaadhiveshan, which culminated in the public rally at Shivaji Park attended by a record number of people, was the announcement by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee that he will not be contesting any elections in future. There were scenes of shock and denouement amongst the public and for some moments the low murmur could be heard before Shri Vajpayee continued talking. He said the future course of the party would be decided by the new Ram-Lakshman team of Shri Advani and Shri Pramod Mahajan.
BJP General Secretary Pramod Mahajan, under whose command and supervision the whole mahaadhiveshan was held, was in his elements when he opened the national executive meeting. He said the small issues that dogged the BJP and which are highlighted by the media would not cow down the party.
BJP is the only political party that is fighting the issue of alienation of the North-East today. The other parties are not even ready to recognise the problem. The other issue that is most important to us in Nagaland is infiltration and terrorism. It is actually a national problem and not just of the region or of the BJP. We in the BJP are trying hard to make all the parties in the state to join hands to deal with this problem. M.C. Kunyak, BJP MLA, Nagaland (seated in the chair in the pic)
During the second day of the mahaadhiveshan, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, former Union Minister for Human Resources Development, was most critical of the UPA government'seconomic policies. He said today in India there were about three-four crore educated unemployed people and the government is only allowing call centres to come up to keep them gainfully employed. He reeled out statistics to counter the present government'spropaganda in the WTO talks about India'sposition being strengthened.
?The UPA government is trying to allow FDI in retail sector and bring in multi-nationals with their huge malls, which can eat up all the employment opportunities of the local people. The goods available in the malls might be cheap, but they are all foreign goods with high profit margins, no sale of local goods??, he remarked. He also quoted the Chinese ambassador as saying quite derisively that India is today becoming world'soffice (by the number of call centres being set up in India) but China would be the factory of the world!
Dr Joshi also stated that there were about 13 transnational companies that controlled the food production in 40 countries in the world. ?This has made the 40 countries completely enslaved by the transnational companies with no food production in their own country and food supplied only by cheap foreign produce. The import of food in these countries has completely wiped out domestic agriculture,? he maintained.
Presenting the economic resolution, Shri Rajnath Singh, former Union Agriculture Minister, wanted to know from the economist Prime Minister of the country what the Congress party and the UPA alliance had done for agriculture in the last 19 months if the PM himself admitted that the agriculture production had gone down alarmingly. Shri Rajnath Singh also added that to prevent the wide-spread suicides by farmers the purchasing capacity of the farmers had to be improved drastically. ?And if we are able to do that then we will become a developed nation in about seven-eight years,?? he added.
The NDA government had brought the interest rates for farmers down to eight per cent from a high of 14 per cent but it should have been brought down to six per cent by the UPA government. It is this failure that has resulted in mass suicides in the community of farmers.
?Another reason for the low productivity in Indian farming sector is that during the long years of Congress rule the use of chemical fertilizers and imported high-yield seeds was promoted to the detriment of the soil and this has considerably affected the income of the farmers. As an example, in Punjab the consumption of chemical fertilizers was about 1.9 kg per hectare in 1961, but it rose to 90 kg per hectare in 1995. The salinity of the soil has consequently gone up which reduces the productivity. This has prompted the farmers to go for organic farming, yet they don'tget international rates or even the international identification standard in this country,? he said.
Shri Arun Jaitley, who was unable to attend the first day of the national executive meeting, was cut and dry in his usual self. He said the UPA government had inherited a dream economy, but today the government was known for its high taxation and paralysis of decision making. He quoted the London Economist which said: The Indian Prime Minister is in office but not in control; he is more pitied than admired.??
He also sought to know from the Prime Minister what was his government'scontribution to the eight per cent current GDP growth. ?If the manufacturing sector is growing at nine per cent, what has been Dr Manmohan Singh government'simpetus towards that growth? In the recently concluded WTO talks in Doha agriculture was the main issue. Even today the US and Europe gives Rs 5,000-crore subsidy to its farmers everyday. They give incentives for more production, more exports, better environment care, better land use, low production in certain cases, etc. Our farmers cannot compete with them as our cost of production and low productivity make all our produce end up in FCI godowns and not in international markets,? he said.
India had promised the developed countries substantial reduction in its import levies but the developed countries had not promised any reduction in their domestic subsidies, he added.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told the crowd, which cheered him for several minutes when he rose to speak, that the people in Bihar had welcomed the NDA government after Lalu Prasad Yadav'srule just like the Iraqis celebrated after the fall of Saddam. There had been a 10 per cent swing in votes in favour of NDA which was unprecedented. Shri Nitish Kumar, the NDA Chief Minister, had taken a number of critical decisions in the last one month. Power sector had been handed over to NTPC to ensure a rapid growth in generation capacity. There have been new rules to reserve seats for Dalits in mukhiya and sarpanch elections. ?A Vyapar conference has been called to deal with MODVAT issues of the retailers in the state. The east-west corridor road linking programme which has been stalled due to security problems and Lalu government'sindifference, has been restarted with CRPF providing security to the road contractors and workers,? he said.
The NRI meet to be held in Hyderabad, where Bihar will be represented, will showcase several packages for sugar, IT, healthcare and entertainment industries. ?In five years, instead of Biharis going out for jobs, outsiders will come rushing in for jobs,?? Shri Modi made out.
(We will carry the presentations of other state BJP chief ministers, deputy chief ministers and state representatives at the mahaadhiveshan next week in detail.)