THE BJP chief, Nitin Gadkari has “diagnosed” the cause of many ills the party is facing – political aspirations of some senior leaders who have already got a lot from the party.
“The problems in the party are not because of grassroots workers but because of those who had benefited much. They will have to think whether their political career is important or party ideology and expansion of the organisation,” said Gadkari.
The BJP chief was blunt in telling party leaders at a closed-door meeting on the first day of the party’s national conclave that they have to have “a big heart” to achieve the “targets”.
In being so candid, Gadkari left an impression. He asked the party workers to turn the mirror inwards and see the mess that the party finds itself in today.
Gadkari, who’s the youngest BJP president, used the platform provided by the national executive to make his candid assessment of the party’s present-day state of affairs. “The average worker wonders why should he continue working for the party when he has got nothing in return. The question arises when he sees that the senior leaders, having tasted power, were only furthering their own interests,’’ he asserted.
He presented a strong critique of the Manmohan Singh government’s handling of the prices issue and the internal security front, and said that his party would take to the streets to draw the people’s attention to the government’s goof-up on the twin issues. While assailing the ruling combine for viewing internal security through the narrow prism of vote-bank politics, he reiterated that the decision to review peace talks with Islamabad was taken under American pressure.
A large part of his speech was devoted to making an honest introspection of the ills plaguing the party. “All political leaders should remember that respect can only be commanded, and not be demanded,” he said.
The BJP president said: “We should not feel vulnerable. After all, we are in power in nine states, we have over a 1,000 MLAs and a little less than 200 MPs. We also control several municipal corporations, municipalities and zila parishads.’’
Gadkari, however, tried to steer clear of any controversy by suggesting that he got the support of his seniors when he landed in the national capital with apprehensions that he would not be able to match the expectations of the party.
Sources close to the party chief suggest that he was trying to drive home the point that his success or failure as the national president would be the reflection of the support that he would receive from the central leaders throughout his tenure.
His address was followed by another speech by outgoing chief Rajnath Singh, who said the role of the president was like that of King Vikrmaditya – who has to be just, fair and take everyone along.
There has to have, Gadkari suggested, some kind of an accountability for electoral losses due to faulty distribution of tickets and assured the party that he would consider winnability and other factors before giving away tickets.
To drive home his point, the former chief of Maharashtra BJP quoted party patriarch Atal Behari Vajpayee, saying, “Chhote man se koi bada nahi hota, toote man se koi khada nahi hota (Small-minded can’t aspire to be great, demoralised can’t stand up),” and asked party leaders to keep “nation first, party second and self last”.
He told party leaders not everyone was required to speak to the media and the job should be left only to those who were authorised. Gadkari, who has also promised to bring a new work culture, advised the leaders to progress through their work and not by belittling others.
“While projecting your line bigger, you should not show the lines made by others are smaller,” he asserted. At the same time, Gadkari called upon party men to work for party’s cause, noting “a man is not finished when he is defeated but he is defeated when he quits”.
A day after he visited Mhow, Ambedkar’s birthplace, garlanded his statue and had food at the house of a local Dalit leader; Gadkari tried to reaching out to the largest section of the electorate, especially the Dalits and the backward sections of society. “We have to fight against social untouchability and create a society of equals,” Gadkari said at the inaugural session of the meet.
Former Maharashtra BJP chief who took over from Rajnath Singh as the national president in December last, had been insisting on increasing BJP’s vote share by at least 10 per cent by reaching out in regions where the party has no or little presence so far.