A promise to retrieve lost ground, redeem the party
Nitin Gadkari to continue playing stellar role BJP presents a united front
THE mood was upbeat. Atmosphere was charged. With the return of Rajnath Singh, the BJP is now all set to open a fresh chapter and take on the Congress. Mr Singh, who headed the BJP from 2005 to 2009, was sworn in as the party president for the second time.
Beginning his fresh innings as BJP president amid mounting organisational and electoral challenges for the party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mr Singh launched a direct attack on the Congress for “ills of the country”. He declared that the BJP will hold countrywide protests from Thursday against home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s “Hindu terror” remarks.
Protests and rallies would be held and effigies representing the UPA government would be burnt by party workers to register their protest, the BJP’s newly installed president said.
“The recent statement of Shinde shows the government is not serious in its fight against terrorism,” Rajnath Singh said, addressing the enthused party workers. ”Just for vote bank politics, they are poisoning the atmosphere of the nation with communalism. We condemn the statement,” he said. Rajnath Singh said the party will come true to the expectations of people and win the forthcoming elections in the states and to parliament.
“We will form the government in 2014,” he said. However, at the same time he reminded the party workers that the “ circumstances in which I accept this responsibility are not happy for us. Nitin Gadkari is one of our workers on whose character questions cannot be raised. We wanted him to continue. We amended the constitution for it. But the way he was attacked by baseless allegations, he was hurt and resigned.”
He then announced that the “ entire party stands with Gadkari. I am not accepting this as a post but as a responsibility.” Rajnath Singh first became party president in 2005 following Advani’s resignation. He was re-elected Nov 2006 and was succeeded by Gadkari in 2009 after the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls that year The man, who is all set to create a new roadmap for the party had initially taken up teaching as his career and got a lecturership in physics at the K B Post-Graduate College in Mirzapur, close to his native place. He had been a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh volunteer right from his childhood, and it was in recognition of his involvement with various activities of the organisation, that he was appointed ‘karyavah’ (secretary) of RSS Mirzapur city unit in 1972. Rajnath Singh made his debut into student politics in 1969 while he was pursuing his degree at Gorakhpur University, and was soon made organisation secretary of the local unit of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
While displaying his leadership qualities as ABVP leader, he drew the attention of UP BJP leadership who named him secretary of Mirzapur unit of then Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1974. Within a year he rose to head the district unit of the party. Rajnath Singh was hand- picked as the district coordinator for the movement launched by Jai Prakash Narayan. And that gave him his first stint in jail together with all those who had opposed the Emergency.
But the reward came in the form of a sweeping win as a young MLA in 1977. In 1983, he was made state secretary of BJP and 1984 he was given charge as state chief of BJP’s Youth Wing — Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morch. Two years later he was elevated as national general secretary of BJYM, and in 1988, he rose further to become the BJYM national president. It was then that he also wrote a book. ‘Unemployment — its Reasons and Remedies’. The same year he also got elected to the UP legislative council and when the BJP formed its first government in 1991, Rajnath Singh was inducted as UP’s education minister. That was the turning point in his career as certain initiatives taken by him put him on a distinctly higher pedestal than many of his equals in the party. And what made him famous was the anti-copying act whereby use of unfair means in examinations was made a cognisable offence.
Rajnath Singh became MP Rajya Sabha in 1994 and also the party’s chief whip in the upper House. For this young looking back. He was entrusted with the all important task of UP BJP president in 1997. During his tenure as an union surface minister India witnessed launching of the country’s National Highway Development Programme. Rajnath Singh became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on October 28, 2000. He was responsible for building a positive image for the party.
In May 2003, he became Union minister for agriculture and food processing and made his mark within no time by initiating schemes like creation of Kisan Call Centres and introduction of farm insurance. In July 2004, he was appointed national general secretary of the BJP for the second time —
with charge of two states — Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
And the party’s victory in both the states at the assembly elections earned him laurels. On December 31, 2005, Rajnath Singh was unanimously elected as the BJP president, thereby taking him to new heights. He focused on common man’s issues like rising prices, besides making efforts to remove the “anti-Muslim” tag of the party.
Mr L.K. Advani while speaking about Rajnath Singh said : “ Rajnath Singh, because I can say that from the beginning of the Jan Sangh – in a long political journey – there has never been a national president on whose election so many people have gathered. Winning elections needs an ability to bring people together, and this he has in adequate measure.”
He went on to say : “ Rajnath has focused on agricultural issues and farmers. I’m sure he will take the party forward on these principles. It is his special responsibility that there should be no compromise with anything that’s not moral. Then we can live up to being the ‘party with a difference’.We should also resolve to win lost ground in Uttar Pradesh. Rajnath is from the state and we should strive for that.”