Having worked as Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for 20 long years, Shri Om Prakash Mathur was loaned to BJP in 1990. He was given the organisational responsibilities. At that time there was a BJP government in Rajasthan headed by Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. There was a perfect coordination between the government and the party. The leaders remember that period as a golden era in the party. Excerpts from an interview with Lokpal Sethi:
What are your immediate priorities as new party president?
When I was given the organisational responsibilities way back in 1990, I ensured that there was regular interaction at every level of the organisation, particularly at the grassroot level. I made it a point to meet or listen to the party workers to solve their problems and difficulties. I felt it was necessary to get feedback from the grass root level and party cadre was the best machinery to be utilised for the purpose. This kind of approach was aimed at that from ordinary worker to the top functionary every one should feel that they have a part to play to run the party and the government. I have started this practice again. A large number of party workers are meeting me every day and I have made it a point to convey their feelings to the leaders who are entrusted with the task of running the government.
You were in charge of organisational affairs of the party for a long period. What problems do you visualise to strengthen the party?
In my first assessment, after assuming the office, I found that basics of the party are very much intact. My predecessors had done lot of work to strengthen and expand the party. Last year, party leadership in the state had started constituting booth level committees. Barring some lacunas here and there, most of the committees are at places. Since elections are less than a year away, we have only couple of months to turn the party machinery into election mode. My immediate task is to activate these committees and continue to do so till the elections are over. These committees would serve as basic unit of the party for every purpose. These committees would not merely be the committees, its members would get the confidence that they are part in running the government. Off late tendencies are growing in the party to let the feelings out by the workers and functionaries through media.
How do you plan to check it as these acts almost amount to indiscipline in the party?
Yes. I agree with you on this issue. Founder leaders of the party had long ago ensured the inner democracy should prevail in the party. They were of the view that party workers should be allowed to lent their feeling out within the party forums. There were occasions when party leaders had to change their decisions under the pressure from ranks as they felt that on many matters approach of the cadre was more realistic and practical. I am telling the party workers and functionaries that if they have something to say, they should raise them in the party as going to media would not solve the problem. They may get headlines in the newspapers for the time being, but in long run they would not gain anything. Now I would encourage the party cadre to bring the matter to party forums.
Feelings are reportedly growing that party leaders in the government are not giving due weightage to the workers and functionaries and they feel ignored?
This could not be entirely true. There may be some cases of this nature, but these could not be generalised. As organisational general secretary of the party, I missed no occasion to tell the party leaders in the government that they should listen to the party cadre. The party cadre is their real strength. They could hope to retain the power if they give due weightage to the organisation and not the government. At the same time party workers have the responsibly to take the achievements of the party government to the people as they are the best instrument to do so. This could be described as best coordination between government and the organisation. Presently this is my most important job, which I would try to carry out with best of my abilities.
BJP was known as cadre based party. But now leaders say it has become a mass base party. How would you differentiate it?
Till couple of years back, most of the workers and leaders were with a strong RSS background, where discipline is the essential part of the organisation. Off late, many people, who were in different political parties, have come to its fold. In their previous parties, discipline was never an important part. But if these leaders want to grow in the party they have to learn discipline and absorb the party'stradition and culture as BJP is still known as party with a difference. At the same time old party cadre and leadership have to be liberal to these new entrants. They should be given time to adjust to the new atmosphere.
When you were appointed as party president, some observers said that now there would be two centers of power in the state BJP?
This assumption is not correct and has no basis. Smt Vasundhara Raje is the undisputed leader of the party in Rajasthan and coming assembly elections would be contested under her leadership. I would not allow to become myself a center of power and would serve as a bridge between government and the party.