Shri L K Advani – Chairman BJP Parliamentary Party
Through the years Advaniji had served as the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party for the longest period since its inception in 1980. Capping a parliamentary career of nearly three decades, Advaniji was, first, the Home Minister and, later, the Deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999-2004).
Advaniji is widely regarded as an individual of great intellectual ability, strong principles, and unwavering support for the idea of a strong and prosperous India. As confirmed by Atalji, Advaniji has ‘never compromised on his core belief in nationalism, and yet has displayed flexibility in political responses whenever it was demanded by the situation’.
Advaniji was born on 8 Nov 1927 and grew up in pre-partitioned Sindh. As a student in St.Patrick’s School, Karachi, his patriotic ideals inspired him to join the Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh (RSS) at the mere age of fourteen. He has dedicated his life to the service of the nation ever since.
Advaniji’s celebration of India’s independence from the British in 1947 was sadly short lived as he became one of the millions to be torn from his homeland amidst the terror and bloodshed of the tragedy of India’s partition. These events, however, did not turn him bitter or cynical but instead spurred him on in his desire to create a more secular India. With this goal in mind he journeyed to Rajasthan to continue his work as an RSS Pracharak.
Through the latter half of the 1980s and the 1990s, Advaniji focused on the singular task of building the BJP into a national political force. The results of his efforts were underscored by the 1989 General Election. The Party bounced back from its 1984 tally of 2 to achieve an impressive 86 seats. The Party position moved up to 121 seats in 1992 and 161 in 1996; making the 1996 elections a watershed in Indian democracy. For the first time since independence, the Congress was dethroned from its preeminent position, and the BJP became the single largest party in the Lok Sabha.
An emotional individual with strong family ties, Advaniji has said that ‘nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them, but I have had the good fortune of experiencing both, and in abundance’.
Today, Advaniji asks the people of India to make the right choice, in choosing a leader who has lived through the mistakes of India’s past, and looks forward to ensuring that India becomes more united, stronger and stands taller with its Tomorrow brighter than its Today.
- November 8, 1927 – Shri L.K Advani was born in Karachi, in present day Pakistan, to parents Kishenchand and Gyanidevi Advani.
- 1936-1942 – Studied at St.Patricks school, Karachi, standing first in every class until matriculation.
- 1942 – Joined the RSS as a Swayamsevak.
- 1942 – Joined Dayaram Gidumal National College, Hyderabad, during the Quit India movement.
- 1944 – Held a job as a teacher in Model High School, Karachi.
- 12 September, 1947 – Left from Sindh to Delhi by propeller aircraft during Paritition.
- 1947-1951 – Organised RSS work in Alwar, Bharatpur,Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar as RSS Secretary in the Karachi branch.
- Early 1957- Shifted to Delhi to assist Shri.Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- 1958-63 – Held the position of Secretary of the Delhi State Jana Sangh.
- 1960-1967 – Joined the Organiser , a political journal of the Jana Sangh as assistant editor.
- Feb 25, 1965 – Married Smt. Kamla Advani, with whom he has two children, Pratibha and Jayant.
- April 1970 – Entered the Rajya Sabha.
- Dec 1972 – Was elected President of Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
- 26 June 1975 – Was Arrested in Bangalore during Emergency period and taken to Banaglore Central Jail along with other BJS members.
- March 1977 to July 1979 – Held the position of Union minister for Information and Broadcasting .May 1986- Became Party President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- 1980-86 – Held the position of General Secretary of the BJP.
- May 1986 – Was announced as party President of the BJP.
- 3 March 1988 – Was re-elected party president of the BJP.
- 1988 – Held the position of Home minister in the BJP Government.
- 1990 – Began the Ram Rath Yatha from Somnath to Ayodhya.
- 1997 – Began the Swarna Jayanti Rath Yathra to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence.
- Oct 13 1999 – May 13 2004- Held the position of Deputy Prime minister.
Yatras By Advani ji
A procession. A journey. A pilgrimage. A word that symbolises an ancient Indian tradition that has evolved over the millennia.
A tradition that is at once universal as well as deeply rooted in that which is exclusively Bharatiya.
A tradition that bridges the gap between the ancient and the modern, the past and the present.
A tradition that is both inclusivist and participatory. A tradition held sacred for precisely these reasons.
In 1990, WHEN the nation faced one of the most severe crises in recent times with casteist forces threatening to tear asunder our social fabric on one hand and competitive communalism of the pseudo-secularists leading to the creation of fresh fissures on the other. Shri L. K. Advani stepped forward to lead the counter-offensive. He used the unique symbol of Sri Ram, the unequalled symbol of our oneness, or our integration, to unleash both our suppressed nationalist fervour as well as our aspiration to live the higher values.
For the first time an ancient tradition became the vehicle to mobilise public opinion. Shri Advani embarked upon his now famous Ram Rath Yatra — while others were busy manipulating the levers of power in Delhi by taking recourse to religion and caste, the Bharatiya Janata Party took its message to the people who are the final arbiters in a democracy. At one level, the yatra was a political ‘procession’, at another level it was a journey in search of the heart of India, a journey that was to span the land lying between shining shores and rising to the heights of the majestic Himalayas. At a third level, it was a pilgrimage whose end goal was a rashtra mandir built not of bricks and mortar but patriotic fervour and nationalist zeal.
And thus was forged a powerful weapon to mould public opinion, to awaken latent nationalism, to rekindle faith in the cultural unity of this vast land of ours.
As the nation marks the golden jubilee of its independence from foreign rule, Shri Advani has decided to embark upon another yatra. This will be a celebratory procession that will traverse the entire length and breadth of the nation. But this will also be a journey with a noble purpose — to rekindle the dimming flame of patriotism, to reweave the shattered dreams that Indians dreamt on August 15, 1947. More importantly, it will be a pilgrimage to pay homage to those who have laid down their lives at the altar of nationalism.
This is the fifth yatra undertaken by the BJP during the last eight years. As the Swarna Jayanti Rath begins to roll across the country, it would be appropriate to recall the last four yatras and the message that each one of them conveyed to the people.
Ram Rath Yatra
September – October 1990
The BJP’s first yatra, contrary to what the pseudo-secularists claim, was not merely a part of the Mandir-Masjid dispute centred around Ram Janmabhumi at Ayodhya. Although linked to the liberation of Ram Janmabhumi, its aim was to raise three fundamental questions that had all along lurked in the collective sub-conscience of the nation but nobody had dared ask them, fearful of retribution from the pseudo-secularists who had ruled India by default since 1947. These questions were:
- What is secularism? What is communalism?
- Can national integration be achieved by constantly pandering to minority communalism?
- Cannot Government reject the cult of minorityism?
The Ram Rath Yatra began from Somnath on September 25, 1990, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary, and was supposed to culminate at Ayodhya on October 30, after traversing 10,000 km.
Why Somnath? And, why Ayodhya?
It was at Somnath that the assault on Hindu temples and shrines, the living symbols of an ancient nation, by Islamic invaders began ~- in 1026 the Somnath shrine was ransacked and its riches plundered by Mahmud Ghaznavi. The temple was rebuilt, only to be put to sword again, and again, and yet again. But not all the armies of the invaders could kill the spirit of Somnath. In 1950, the destroyed temple was rebuilt at the initiative of Sardar Patel as a symbol of resurgent Indian nationhood.
Shri Advani chose Somnath as the starting point of his yatra because the reconstruction of the shrine on the rubble of loot and plunder was the first chapter in a journey to “preserve the old symbols of unity, communal amity and cultural oneness”. The Yatra was scheduled to conclude at Ayodhya because the liberation of Ram Janmabhumi would be the second.
This simple message of oneness, of cultural nationalism, of questioning the conventional wisdom of appeasement and minorityism, caught the imagination of the people. The yatra was a tremendous success — no other effort at political mobilisation had drawn such a popular response. The yatra brought into sharp focus the contrast between “lok shakti”, as represented by the masses, and “raj shakti”, as represented by the elitist rulers in Delhi.
The moral and revolutionary dimension of the Ram Rath Yatra made it comparable to the Salt Satyagraha or “Dandi march” of Gandhi in 1930. The yatra effectively drove home the point that if Ram represented the ideal of conduct, Ram Rajya represented the ideal of governance. The sheer magnitude of popular support made it comparable to Tilak’s appropriation of Ganesh Chaturthi to mobilise public opinion against colonial rule. The cultural dimension of the yatra made it comparable to the anti-cow slaughter campaign of Gandhi.
The awesome tidal wave of nationalism unleashed by the yatra unnerved the pseudo-secularists. ‘Jai Shri Ram’ became more than a traditional greeting: it became a roaring endorsement of the BJP’s view that secularism does not mean a rejection of our history and cultural heritage, the very foundations of this great nation. The two leading champions of pseudo-secularism, Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shri Laloo Prasad Yadav, swung into action, using the only means with which they are comfortable — repression and terror. Shri Advani was arrested in the wee hours of the morning on October 23 in Bihar at Samastipur and held captive at Masanjore. In Uttar Pradesh, a brutal crackdown was ordered against the votaries of resurgent nationalism.
Ironically, despite such marshalling of the state’s might, “raj shakti” had to suffer a humilating defeat at the hands of “lok shakti’. Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who had tried to cynically exploit caste and religious identities to perpetuate his rule. had to make an ignominious exit. Today, his party, the Janata Dal, is a near extinct political species, barely alive with the help of the Congress. The disputed structure over which Muslims were egged on to shed blood by their self-appointed ‘secular’ guardians, does not exist any more. The man who had the audacity to halt the Ram Rath and arrest Shri Advani, today stands exposed as a venal politician driven by pelf and power.
Today, the BJP is the largest political party in the country, thanks to the journey that began from Somnath during the Navaratri of 1990. The procession that began with a handful of nationalists led by an uncompromising nationalist is today a roaring stream of nationalist fervour. The pilgrimage will be over the day Ram Lalla finds his rightful place in a temple commemorating the sacred site of his birth.
Once again Shri Advani took the lead in mobilising public opinion against these draconian, anti-democratic, anti-people measures. He planned a four-pronged yatra, to be led by senior leaders of the party. Thus was born the Janadesh Yatra with the purpose of seeking the people’s mandate against the two Bills, the Constitution 80th Amendment Bill and the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill.
Nineteen Ninety-Three. Backed by the Marxists and other assorted pseudo-secularists, the Rao Government introduced two draconian Bills — the Constitution 80th Amendment Bill and the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill — with the dual purpose of banning religion from public life as well as denying political space to the BJP. The underpinning of these proposed legislations, as in the past, was minority appeasement and crass votebank politics. The BJP stalled the Bills in Parliament and the debate was deferred, although the Bills were not withdrawn.
The BJP’s Opposition Was Articulated By Shri Advani
“We strongly object to religion being translated as dharma… for the average Indian, irrespective of whether he is a Hindu, or a Muslim or a Christian, his respective religion is for him an inspiration for righteous conduct. By ousting religion from politics, we will only be weakening the moral base of public life… politics should be cleansed of adharma, not dharma. It should be rid of corruption and criminalisation, not of probity and integrity…”
Through These Bills, The Pseudo-Secularists Sought To Achieve Four Principal Objectives:
- Subvert the basic scheme of elections and allow pre-emptive disqualification;
- Provide constitutional legitimacy to banning organisations;
- Make the state irreligious rather than one which respects all religions equally;
- Allow the summary deregistration of political parties.
Once again Shri Advani took the lead in mobilising public opinion against these draconian, anti-democratic, anti-people measures. He planned a four-pronged yatra, to be led by senior leaders of the party. Thus was born the Janadesh Yatra with the purpose of seeking the people’s mandate against the two Bills.
The four yatras began on September 11, 1993, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, from four corners of the country. Shri Advani himself led the yatra from Mysore; Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat from Jammu; Shri Murli Manohar Joshi from Porbandar; and, Shri Kalyan Singh from Calcutta. Travelling through 14 States and two Union Territories, the yatris congregated at Bhopal on September 25 in a massive rally. The Janadesh Yatra was a runaway success.
It was, by all accounts, an unprecedented programme of mass contact; a programme that took the debate on the ‘religion Bills’ from the antiseptic drawing rooms of Delhi to the dusty villages of Bharat. Once again, while the BJP’s detractors schemed and plotted iii the national Capital, the BJP went to the nation’s people!
Shri Advani had a tremendous response in Naxalite Telegana. Huge crowds greeted Shri Joshi in Ahmedabad. The tumultuous response to Shri Kalyan Singh in Calcutta prompted The Indian Express to headline its report: ‘Red City Turns Saffron”, a report which acknowledged, ‘the city will perhaps never be the same again.” In terrorism-affected Punjab, for the first time in a decade a political party had come out in such a big way: As crowds greeted Shri Shekhawat, officials thanked him, saying the yatra had helped revive the morale of the administration.
The Bills were never passed. Indeed, its proponents, clearly scared by the public rejection of their dubious move, could not summon the courage to initiate a debate. The adharmic move of the pseudo-secularists was one again defeated by the forces of dharma. The evocative theme of the Janadesh Yatra, “Loktantra Rakshanaye, Dharmachakra Pravartanaye”. proved a winner.
Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra
A Patriotic Pilgrimage: To commemorate the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence, May-July 1997 (Excerpted from Shri Advani’s autobiography MY COUNTRY MY LIFE)
Lord Macaulay once cynically remarked that an acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia. Hard-boiled politicians may be inclined to agree with this dictum, and scoff at dreamers. But independent India is acutely conscious of the fact that it is the dreams of visionaries like Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Tagore and Gandhi that have inspired the nation during the freedom struggle and finally helped liberate it. These great seers, each in his own inimitable way, described the India of their dreams—a great and glorious India, commanding the respect of the entire world. I hold that India’s Constitution-makers very ably encapsulated these dreams of theirs in the Preamble to the Constitution, which beckons to the day when all Indian citizens would secure:
Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all;
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation’.
As a political activist, I identify myself completely with this sublime, yet eminently attainable, vision of future India. I longingly look forward to its realisation.
(From my article in The Illustrated Weekly of India, Independence Day special, 1987)
Ten years after I wrote this, in 1997, an event occurred that gave me an opportunity to propagate my vision through a unique political campaign—the golden jubilee of India’s Independence, which ushered in a mood of patriotism all over the country.
Sometime in February, I called a meeting of my colleagues in the party office to discuss how the BJP should commemorate 1997. After considering several suggestions, we decided to pay homage to all the heroes and martyrs of the freedom movement by visiting places associated with them across the country. My young team of offi ce-bearers and other colleagues soon translated the idea into a concrete plan in the form of a nationwide road journey called the Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra: Rashtrabhakti Ki Teerth Yatra (A Patriotic Pilgrimage). Travelling to places sanctifi ed by the struggles andsacrifices of the heroes of the freedom movement was akin to undertaking pilgrimage. I felt this would help me strengthen my own as well as my party’s, nationalist and idealist moorings.
Three factors, however, seemed problematic: timing, climate and the sheer number of places we would need to visit. The yatra had to be undertaken before 15 August, but only after the schools and colleges had completed their examinations. It also had to be concluded before the onset of the rains, which arrive sooner in the south than in the north. Since all the states needed to be covered, the yatra would take not less than two months. In other words, I needed to be on the road in the peak of the forbidding Indian summer—and the condition of roads then was not half as good as it is today. This concerned some of my colleagues who were doubtful of subjecting me to this strain and also because I as to soon turn seventy. I was, however, fi rm and decided to go ahead with the yatra.
The Yatra’s Raison D’etre
There were a couple of reasons why I agreed to undertake this campaign. The first was personal: the golden jubilee of India’s Independence was a highly emotional occasion for me. However, it was as much a time for introspection as celebration. Therefore, it was also necessary to take stock of the successes, shortcomings and failures of the fi rst fi fty years of free India, and, simultaneously, to catalyse a serious debate on the content and direction of India’s future development.
The Second Reason Was Political: I wanted to project the BJP as a party committed to good governance. Although India had attained swaraj or self-governance in 1947, it had not been transformed, even after fifty ears, into su-raj or good governance. Consequently, people had started perceiving all politicians as unprincipled, unscrupulous, self-seeking and power-hungry. It was necessary, therefore, for the BJP to rededicate itself to a loftier goal for being in politics, an ideal that went far beyond the immediate goal of pursuit of political power and linked itself to the task of freeing India from the yoke of hunger, fear and corruption. The government of I.K. Gujral, like that of H.D. Deve Gowda, was showing clear signs of early mortality. The prospect of another mid-term parliamentary poll was looming large, and the Congress party, which had lost power, was getting discredited as a destabiliser. On the other hand, the fact that Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government could not last beyond thirteen
days, in spite of the BJP having emerged as the single largest party in the1996 parliamentary elections, had greatly disappointed the people. They were craving for stability and better governance. The situation was, thus, rapidly turning in BJP’s favour. I reckoned that a nationwide yatra at this time would serve both my purposes.
My young party colleagues—Pramod Mahajan, M. Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, K.N. Govindacharya, Narendra Modi and Sadhvi Uma Bharati—began preparations for the yatra, which was to take place in four continuous phases in fi fty-nine days, from 18 May to 15 July, covering a distance of over 15,000 kilometres through as many as twenty-one states and union territories, making it by far the longest and widest mass contact programme undertaken by any political party since Independence.
(The seven North-Eastern states, where the rains arrive much earlier than elsewhere, had to be covered separately after Independence Day.) I addressed 750 scheduled public meetings, besides speaking to people at several thousand unscheduled wayside receptions in villages and hamlets. My colleagues later estimated that the yatra established direct contact with as many as two crore Indians from the time of its beginning in Mumbai to its conclusion in Delhi.
I had been cautioned by some people against undertaking this second yatra, since comparisons with my Ram Rath Yatra of 1990, from Somnath to Ayodhya, would be inevitable. Also, unlike the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, which was religious and hence emotive in nature, a yatra for the golden jubilee celebrations would fail to draw the crowds, they said. In reality, however, the Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra evoked a stupendously positive response, giving me deep and enduring satisfaction. It also helped me learn a lot about the proud history of India’s freedom movement, which in many places in the country began well before the First War of Independence in 1857. But for this countrywide journey, I would not have known about so many less renowned heroes and martyrs, whose names are a part of the local folklore in every state and whose exploits can inspire the young and the old for generations to come
But the Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra was not only about India’s past. It was equally about India’s present and future. The campaign enabledme to talk about a wide range of issues of contemporary and future importance—corruption, criminalisation, casteism, communalism, terrorism, poverty, women’s empowerment, education, environment, work culture and economic development guided by the swadeshi principle with a focus on agriculture and employment. Above all, it reinforced my conviction, fi rst formed during the Ayodhya movement, that there is no greater method than a yatra to reach out to the common people in a vast country like ours, and no better way to galvanise the large army of one’s own party workers and sympathisers.
As I look back at the two months that I was on the road, traversing the length and breadth of India, and honouring the sacred memory of hundreds of martyrs and heroes of our freedom struggle, I feel gratifi ed that the yatra truly lived up to its description: A Patriotic Pilgrimage.
Bharat Uday Yatra
March – April 2004
Bharat Uday Yatra was the fourth major yatra nationwide undertaken by Shri L.K. Advani. This explicitly election-oriented road campaign took place in March-April 2004 in the run-up to the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha. These elections had been advanced by about five months from September-October to April-May 2004.
Why were the elections advanced? As the Government of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered the last year of its five-year term in September-October 2003, the BJP certainly found the situation encouraging. The Prime Minister’s popularity was at an all-time high. The economy was on the upswing. The steadily swelling foreign reserves had, for the first time, crossed the psychologically significant barrier of $100 billion, a far cry indeed from the time in 1990 when forex reserves were so low that India had been forced to mortgage its gold to tide over a severe balance of payment crisis.
Another national accomplishment was when India’s GDP growth in the second quarter of 2003 was recorded at 8.4 per cent. It belied Sonia Gandhi’s taunting criticism of the NDA government’s economic policies in her speech while moving a no-confidence motion during the monsoon session of Parliament, in which she had made fun of the target of an eight per cent GDP growth, likening it to ‘Mungeri Lal ke haseen sapne’ (pipe dreams of Mungeri Lal1). The fruits of many bold decisions and pioneering initiatives taken earlier, such as construction of a nationwide network of world-class highways, were becoming visible. The telecom revolution had taken off in a big way, thanks to a bold policy reform in 1999. And because of the stunning progress in the information technology sector, India was being hailed as a ‘Software Superpower’.
Throughout the period between 1999 and 2003, the main Opposition party, Congress, did not appear to be quite vibrant. Indeed, the BJP won impressive victories in the assembly elections held in October 2003 in three big states where the Congress had incumbent governments—Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The BJP’s success in these three states gave its leadership the confidence to consider advancing the elections to the 13th Lok Sabha, due in September 2004. According to Shri Advani, “Our confidence was further buttressed by media reports and opinion polls which predicted a comfortable win for the BJP-led NDA, if elections were held in the first half of 2004.”
On the recommendation of the Prime Minister, President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam dissolved the 13th Lok Sabha on 6 February. Shri Advani writes in his autobiography: “As far as the BJP and the NDA were concerned, two issues needed to be settled: The plank on which we would seek a renewed mandate; and the nature of our campaign. The first question was easily answered: Atalji’s proven stewardship. The people had seen and hailed him as a visionary leader who not only provided stability but had taken India forward on the path of progress and global prestige. Thus, the NDA would seek a mandate for Atalji’s continued leadership of India. The answer to the second question, regarding the nature of the campaign, had to take into account an important factor: because of the two knee operations that Atalji had undergone in 2002, his mobility had become somewhat restricted. Therefore, I had to shoulder a major responsibility of the campaign. My colleagues suggested that my campaign should be in the nature of a nationwide road journey. This suggestion, which I readily accepted, was crystallised in the form of the Bharat Uday Yatra, a thirty-three-day-long, 8,500-kilometres drive covering, in two stages, as many as 121 Lok Sabha constituencies in sixteen states.”
Seeking a Renewed Mandate
The yatra was flagged off in Kanyakumari on 10 March and reached Amritsar on 25 March. Five days later, it resumed from Rajkot and culminated at Jagannath Puri on 14 April. Shri Advani writes: “Bharat Uday Yatra brought me immense satisfaction, reinforcing my conviction from the experience of previous yatras that, for a genuine mass contact programme, there is nothing better for a political leader than a road journey. It enabled me to talk to the people, meet them, and establish that special emotional connection which is the soul of democracy. The response to the Bharat Uday Yatra was almost uniformly good. I addressed hundreds of meetings in which I expounded my views on the various issues that the election had thrown up.”
Shri Advani’s speeches during the yatra had a common theme: “This election is all about who should lead India, and with what vision. The Congress has nothing to offer to the country on both counts. On the contrary, Atal Bihari Vajpayee has shown both leadership and vision. He has also proved that India need not depend only on the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for stable governance and able leadership. Our government has done much in the past six years, and the results of our performance are there for the people to see. But there is a large unfinished agenda, which can be summed up in one slogan: To make India a Developed Nation by 2020. The realisation of this slogan requires good governance, stability and continuation of Atalji’s leadership.”
Shock Defeat In The Elections
The NDA suffered a shock defeat in the elections. The people voted for a hung Parliament, in which no single party or pre-poll alliance secured a majority on its own. However, the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 145 seats (out of the 400 seats from which it contested). The BJP could win only 138 seats (out of the 364 constituencies from where it contested). The difference was, apparently, marginal. But the party’s tally had come down from 182 in 1999. The fall in the NDA’s strength was even more debilitating: from 304 in 1999 to 186 in 2004. In contrast, the number of MPs belonging to the Congress and its pre-poll allies was 216. A Congress-led Government of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came into being, with outside support from sixty-two MPs belonging to the CPI(M) and three other Left parties.
Criticism Of ‘India Shining’ and ‘Feel Good Factor’
Two phrases â€• ‘India Shining’ and ‘Feel Good Factor’â€• got inadvertently associated with the Bharat Uday Yatra. In the months before the yatra, the NDA Government had launched an advertisement campaign on the theme of ‘India Shining’ to highlight India’s achievements in the economic field. Around the same time, an ad campaign by a corporate house popularized the phrase ‘Feel Good Factor’ to reflect the upbeat mood in the country.
Although Bharat Uday means ‘India Rising’, and not ‘India Shining’, the media projected the Bharat Uday Yatra as ‘India Shining Yatra’.
After the NDA’s defeat in the elections, many commentators criticized the ‘India Shining’ campaign and identified it as one of the contributory factors. Conceding this point, Shri Advani writes in his autobiography:
“The phraseology of ‘India Shining’ and ‘Feel Good Factor’ hurt us. These phrases, though valid in themselves in a particular context, were inappropriate for our election campaign. There was indeed a ‘feel good’ atmosphere in the country over the past one year, prior to the 2004 elections, on account of a combination of factors: accelerating economic growth; sound macro-economic management; a good monsoon yielding an all-time high food production; praise for India on account of her shining achievements in sectors such as IT; a sharp dip in incidents of cross-border terrorism; the long-hoped for turnaround in the situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East; and anticipation of a new chapter of peace and cooperation with Pakistan. However, by making the ‘Feel Good Factor’ and ‘India Shining’ the verbal icons of our election campaign, we gave an opportunity to our political opponents to highlight other aspects of India’s contemporary reality — poverty and uneven development, unemployment among the youth, problems faced by farmers, etc., which questioned our claim.”
Bharat Suraksha Yatra
April 6 – May 10, 2006
- To safeguard National Security
from jehadi terrorism and left-wing extremism
- To defend National Unity
from the divisive politics of minorityism
- To rescue Governance
from corruption and criminalization in high places
- To save Parliamentary Democracy
from institutional misuse and Congress party’s fake culture of “sacrifice”
- To protect the “Aam Aadmi”, Garib and Kisans
from the assaults of massive price rise, unemployment and debt
(The Following Press Release Was Issued at The Start Of The Yatra)
The Bharatiya Janata Party has launched a nationwide mass political campaign in the form of the Bharat Suraksha Yatra from April 6 to May 10, 2006. It consists of two yatras – one led by Shri L.K. Advani, Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha), from Dwaraka in Gujarat to Delhi; and the other led by Shri Rajnath Singh, President of the BJP, from Jagannath Puri in Orissa to Delhi.
Shri Advaniji’s Yatra will cover a distance of 6,000 kms and travel through the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. Shri Rajnath Singhji’s Yatra will cover a distance of 5,500 kms and travel through the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi. Together, they will cover 17 states and a distance of 11,500 kms.
How The BJP Has Modernized The Concept Of ‘Yatra’ In The Indian Tradition
Yatra is an age-old medium of national integration in India. Throughout our millennial history, people have traveled from one part of India to another, mainly to places of pilgrimage, in search of knowledge and spiritual salvation. Social and religious leaders have also used the medium of the yatra to create a new awakening among the people, and thus strengthen the bonds of social harmony and patriotic unity.
In modern times, the Bharatiya Janata Party is proud to have reinvented the quintessentially Indian tradition of Yatra and employed it – as against the imported, videshi concept of “roadshows” – as a means of mass political campaign. Shri Advaniji’s “Ram Rath Yatra” of 1990, to mobilize public opinion in favour of construction of a Ram Temple at Ayodhya, became a major landmark in Indian history. His “Swarna Jayanti Rath Yatra” in 1997, to commemorate the golden jubilee of India’s independence, paid tribute to all the martyrs and heroes of our Freedom Struggle. His “Bharat Uday Yatra” in 2004 widely propagated India’s remarkable achievements under the six-year reign of Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Similarly, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi’s “Ekta Yatra” in 1991-92 gave expression to the national resolve that Kashmir will always remain an inalienable part of India. In addition, the BJP has also launched the “Janadesh Yatra” (1993), “Su-raj Yatra” (1996) and several other yatras at the state level to carry its socio-political message to the people of India.
The dates for the start and finish of the Yatra are highly significant. April 6 is Ram Navami, the day Lord Ram was born. It is also the Founding Day of the BJP, which was born on this very day in 1980. May 10 too is a sacred day. It marked the beginning of India’s First War of Independence in 1857. In his inspiring book on this glorious chapter in India’s history, Veer Savarkar writes that those were the days when “Hindus and Mahomedans proclaimed that India was their country and that they were all brethren, the days when Hindus and Mahomedans unanimously raised the flag of national freedom at Delhi. Be those grand days ever memorable in the history of Hindustan!” Incidentally, the 150th anniversary of this historic event begins on May 10 this year. Hence, Shri Advaniji’s Yatra will pay homage to the martyrs of 1857 in Meerut, before reaching Delhi.
Why Another Yatra? Why Now?
Dear Countrymen, this mass education campaign has been launched at a critical juncture in independent India’s history. Since the installation of the UPA Government with Communist support in May 2004, our country has witnessed an erosion of core national values. On the one hand, the Government has mounted a cynical assault on cherished democratic ideals, eroded the sanctity of institutions, given criminals and scamsters a place in the central government, and betrayed all the promises it made to alleviate the plight of the “aam aadmi”, garib and kisans. On the other hand, it has unleashed a wave of divisive politics that has set Indian against Indian and undermined the unity and security of the nation. Our country would have to pay a heavy price unless a correction is applied to the wrong turn it took in May 2004 by placing the Congress-led rag-tag UPA coalition in power.
This leaflet gives you an overview of the context, purpose and objectives of the Bharat Suraksha Yatra. It seeks to present a comprehensive perspective on the concept of ‘Bharat Suraksha’ – weaving together diverse strands of national unity, national security, defense of democracy, probity in governance, and protection of people’s economic security. We urge you to read this booklet, encourage others to read it, and discuss its contents as responsible and concerned citizens of India.
Dangers Of politics Of ‘Minorityism’
Today, India is witnessing the revival of the Congress party’s vote bank politics that was so decisively rejected by the electorate in the 1990s. Along with the Communists and some other parties, the Congress is engaged in politics of competitive minorityism. What is worse, it is defending it in the name of secularism. India has always been secular and shall forever remain so because of her core Hindu ethos, which holds that everybody is free to follow their own mode of worship. ‘Sarva Pantha Samabhav’ and rejection of theocracy have been the hallmark of our society and statecraft. The BJP believes that all sections of India’s diverse society, irrespective of their caste or creed, deserve equal treatment and equal care. “Justice for All, Appeasement of None” – this has been our Party’s motto since its inception.
What the BJP is firmly against, however, is giving a permanent status to notions of “minority” and “majority” in our political life. It is precisely this divisive mindset that led the Muslim League to demand, and violently secure, the partition of India in 1947. For the sake of consolidating its lost Muslim vote bank, the Congress party is now following on the footsteps of the pre-1947 Muslim League. By brazenly adopting a policy of minorityism, the Congress isn’t merely creating a divide between Muslims and non-Muslims; it is also wantonly undermining Indian nationalism.
Congress-Assisted Demographic Invasion From Bangladesh
For 25 years, just for the sake of votes, the Congress party has systematically shielded infiltrators from Bangladesh, and smuggled them onto voters’ lists in Assam, West Bengal (where the Communists have assisted the Congress in this anti-national crime), and other states of north-eastern and eastern India. By now, over two crore Bangladeshis have settled in India. In a historic judgment in July 2005, the Supreme Court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act in 1985 as unconstitutional. It has held that the provisions of the Act, which the Congress and the Communists have stoutly defended, have been deliberately designed to help the infiltrators. “The State of Assam is facing ‘external aggression and internal disturbance’ on account of large scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals,” the Supreme Court has warned. Its judgement is a clear and total vindication of the BJP’s consistent stand for the repeal of IMDT.
Shockingly, after the Supreme Court judgement, the UPA government is moving heaven and earth to provide another legal protection for Bangladeshi infiltrators by incorporating all the nefarious provisions of the IMDT Act into the Foreigners Act and extend the latter to the whole country. There can scarcely be a bigger betrayal of the Indian Nation. Just to create a captive vote bank, the Congress party and the UPA government are jeopardizing our national unity and national security. Many people in Assam fear that “within ten years a Bangladeshi Chief Minister will be in charge of Assam, if infiltration continues at this rate; Al-Qaeda and ISI working here will be protected; and the situation Assam will be worse than in Jammu and Kashmir”. The north-eastern region shares only 2% of its boundary with India, while the remaining 98% is bordered by the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and China. Therefore, if the Congress-assisted demographic invasion from Bangladesh into this strategic region of our country is not checked and reversed, there is an imminent prospect of the “birth of a third Islamic country” out of the once united India of pre-1947 days.
Muslim Head-Count In The Armed Forces
The UPA government sought to communalise the Armed Forces by encouraging Muslim head-count in the Army, Navy and Air Force. This naturally met with strong disapproval from both serving and retired personnel from the Armed Forces. India’s Armed Forces are both an embodiment and a custodian of India’s national unity. People of all religions serve in them and there has never been any discrimination, including on religious grounds, either in recruitment or promotion. They provide for places of worship for all faiths. They display neither bias nor prejudice towards any community. It is shocking, therefore, that the UPA government tried to introduce divisive tendencies in our Armed Forces by giving its sanction to a Muslim census. This nefarious design was nipped in the bud only because of timely and spirited protest from the BJP and other nationalist forces.
The UPA Government has broken the national consensus on reservations. It has opened the floodgates of religion-based reservations. The Supreme Court on January 5, 2006 quashed the decision of the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh to give 5% quota in jobs and education to Muslims. The Allahabad High Court quashed Aligarh Muslim University’s decision to provide 50% reservation for Muslims in postgraduate Medical/engineering courses. Yet the UPA government is trying to find some way to push communal quotas. What began as a demand for more jobs and more educational opportunities is fast turning into a demand for communal quotas in all walks of life, including the Armed Forces, Parliament and State Legislatures. The BJP opposes this dangerous trend, which is being encouraged by the Congress party. It is useful to remember the warning sounded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, on the concept of communal reservations: “This way lies not only folly but disaster.”
The Government has shown incredible laxity in dealing with jehadi terrorism. The attack on the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the Diwali bomb blasts in Delhi, the recent serial blasts in Varanasi, and earlier attacks on the Raghunath Temple in Jammu and the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar – these are clear indicators that the jehadis want to create a communal divide and tension in India. These acts also show that the infrastructure of terrorism, aimed against India, is still intact in Pakistan. Bangladesh has emerged as a second launch-pad for cross-border terrorism. The UPA government is turning a blind eye to the growing network of cells of jehadi terrorists and their supporters within India. The Congress and its allies have completely failed to educate the people on this grave danger to our national security and integration. Rather than further intensify the legal, administrative and political offensive against jehadi terrorism, and the anti-national ideology that supports it, the UPA government’s first act upon assuming office was to scrap POTA.
Kerala Assembly Resolution To Release Terrorist Mastermind Madani
Recently, MLAs belonging to the Congress, Muslim League and Communist parties passed a resolution in the Kerala Assembly seeking the release of Abdul Nasser Madani, the brain behind the serial bomb blasts in Coimbatore in 1998, which killed 58 people. Shri Advaniji was the principal target in this murderous plot. Madani is in a jail in Tamil Nadu, facing trial. The two rival political fronts in Kerala have joined ranks to seek his release on “humanitarian grounds” solely with an eye on Muslim votes in the coming Assembly elections.
Other examples of the UPA’s politics of minorityism are – creation of a separate ministry for minority affairs; revision of history texts to make communalism and separatism seem respectable; and communalization (by some UPA partners) of the protest against India’s foreign policy in respect of Iran’s nuclear policy and President Bush’s visit to India. In short, the UPA has triggered a process that will lead to the polarisation of India along religious lines. If unchecked, this polarization could have grave consequences for India’s unity, integrity and security.
BJP’s Appeal To Indian Muslims
The BJP appeals to Indian Muslims to guard against the self-serving propaganda of our political adversaries that our Party is anti-Muslim (or against other religious minorities). We respect all faiths and hold that religious freedoms of the followers of all faiths are inviolable. At the same time, we firmly believe that the politics of minorityism is unhelpful to Muslims themselves, besides being detrimental to the Indian Nation. Successive Congress governments have done little to promote the socio-economic development of poor Muslims. The Congress party is using Indian Muslims merely as pawns in its cynical power game, thus driving a wedge between Muslims and Hindus. Our adversaries think that the surest way of capturing political power is to divide the Hindu society on caste lines and to consolidate Muslims as a “vote bank”. This is a dangerous and short-sighted strategy, which will undermine both democracy and national unity.
The UPA Government has no clear and long-range policy on combating Naxal insurgency, which has become one of the major threats to India’s internal security. It has encouraged the Maoist insurgency in Nepal to go out of hand and this in turn has emboldened the naxalites into threatening the stability of Indian states along their proposed “red corridor” from Kathmandu to Kochi. In many naxal-affected states, the Congress has endangered the lives and property of ordinary citizens by cutting political deals with Maoists. The UPA government treats the naxal menace as essentially a state issue, to be tackled more or less independently by the affected states. It has almost abandoned the Vajpayee government’s well-conceived strategy to combat this menace with a centralized command structure and with the cooperation of all the affected state governments. Today, the Maoist insurgents pose as much threat as the jehadis. In many cases, the two work in tandem with secessionist movements in North-east India.
Although naxalites claim to represent the poor, they are in fact the worst enemies of the poor and the exploited. For by creating conditions of violence and terror in some of the most backward regions of the country, they are blocking the development of these areas, thereby pushing the poor into a worse state of poverty and unemployment. While advocating an uncompromising strategy to deal with the naxal menace, the BJP strongly champions speedy socio-economic advancement of the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes and the poor belonging to other communities in extremism-affected areas.
Corruption And Criminalisation
Never in the history of independent India has a government at the Centre been born with two shameful birthmarks: corruption and criminalization. Over half a dozen individuals with well-established record of heinous criminality – ranging from murder to corruption scams – were rewarded with ministerial berths. The UPA government allowed the Italian fugitive Ottavio Quattrocchi, who has repeatedly proclaimed his “proud friendship” with the family of Shrimati Sonia Gandhi, to walk away with Rs. 21 crore of Bofors bribes from a frozen bank account in London. This has incontrovertibly proved our charge: “Congress ka haath, Quattrocchi ke saath.” The Congress party itself was named by the Volcker Report as a beneficiary in Iraq’s murky oil-for-food scandal, in which a central minister had to be forced to quit office. Most recently, many bigwigs of the Congress and the UPA government have been shown to be involved in a scandal in the Rs. 18,000-crore Scorpene submarine deal. Kickbacks amounting to over Rs. 500 crore have allegedly been paid to Congress leaders by middlemen, who are also involved in a serious “War Room Leak” in the Navy. No wonder, the Scorpene scam has come to be known as the “Navy’s Bofors”.
The BJP recognizes that the common people are troubled more by local and lower-level corruption in their interface with the administration. Our Party has always been a spirited campaigner for a corruption-free India – both at higher and lower levels of government. Nevertheless, we believe that the people at the top have a greater responsibility to set the right example in this regard. It is because of the wrong example set by the Congress party that a culture of corruption has now become rampant in our country. The BJP believes that corruption is a potent threat not only to India’s development, but also to India’s democracy and national security.
Congress President’s Phony “Sacrifice – Part II”
Within a short time of two years, the UPA government has established a long record of subversion of democratic institutions for partisan ends. It brazenly misused the office of the governor to undermine the democratic mandate in Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar. The Supreme Court struck down dissolution of the Bihar Assembly as “unconstitutional”. It also censured the Union Cabinet, headed by a nominated Prime Minister who is in office but not in command, for “not applying its mind” in the matter. The governor had to tender his resignation. An even more blatant instance of subversion of the norms of parliamentary democracy was seen recently when the UPA government closed Parliament’s budget session in order to bring a “Save Sonia” ordinance. Caught red-handed in its own petty conspiracy, the Congress party is now projecting its president’s resignation- under-compulsion from the Lok Sabha and chairpersonship of the National Advisory Council (which was an extra-constitutional power centre) as yet another act of “sacrifice” and “martyrdom”. The BJP considers this to be an insult to the intelligence of the Indian people.
Government of “Khaas Aadmi”, Not “Aam Aadmi”
The BJP believes that national security is incomplete without economic security to crores of poor and middle-class families in India. The Congress party’s betrayal of its promise to the “aam aadmi” is evident from the rapidly growing divide between the rich and poor. The common man is groaning under an unprecedented rise in the prices of all essential commodities. Similarly, the promise of employment to the unemployed youth has been betrayed. The number of jobless people, including educated job-seekers, has grown in the past two years. The much-trumpeted Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme remains merely on paper. The government has also failed to provide any social security to workers in the unorganised sector both in rural and urban areas. The rural poor are forced, in greater number than before, to migrate to urban slums, where the living conditions have further worsened.
Plight Of Kisans
India is today witnessing the gravest agrarian crisis in its post-1947 history. The worst sufferers of the UPA government’s betrayal and non-performance are India’s kisans, who are driven to commit suicide in large numbers. Cases of farmers’ suicides are also surfacing in relatively prosperous states like Punjab, Kerala and Maharashtra. The prices of all inputs have shot up, whereas the prices of farmers’ output continue to be at the mercy of a manipulative market. The crop insurance scheme is in a shambles. With the cooperative credit structure in most states turning sick, and the government turning a blind eye to the demand for remunerative prices for farm produce, kisans are being forced to carry a heavy burden of private debt. The crisis in agriculture is also pushing khet mazdoors into indebtedness and further pauperization. The Centre has failed to take effective steps to overcome the power crisis, whose first victims are always the kisans. By abandoning the Vajpayee government’s dream project of inter-linking of rivers, the UPA government has shown its indifference to the Indian farmer’s key concern for long-term water security.
Vajpayee Government’s Development Agenda Discarded
The progressive measures of the NDA Government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee created the basis for a surge in national pride and national self-confidence. They created the basis for rapid economic growth, modernisation and the enhancement of India’s competitive worth in the world. The returns from these measures are beginning to be felt in many sectors today. Unfortunately, the UPA government has either stopped or considerably slowed down implementation of many ambitious development projects initiated by the Vajpayee government. It has even stopped projecting the dream of making India a Developed Nation by 2020, which the Vajpayee government had propagated so vigorously.
BJP’s Vision of Bharat Suraksha
Dear Countrymen, it should be obvious to you from this leaflet that the Bharatiya Janata Party has a broad and holistic vision of ‘Bharat Suraksha’.
- Safeguarding national security (both external and internal) by making India free of fear;
- Defense of national unity by combating the divisive politics of minorityism;
- Protection of the polity from the evil of corruption and criminalization;
- Rescuing parliamentary democracy from misuse of institutions and also from the Congress party’s fake culture of “sacrifice”;
- Guaranteeing economic security for the kisan, khet mazdoor, workers in the unorganized and organised sectors, middle-classes, and the “aam aadmi” in general;
- Promotion of social justice, along with social harmony, for the SCs, STs, OBCs and the poor belonging to all the communities;
- Guaranteeing gender justice, empowerment and societal respect for women;
- Ensuring education security to every Indian child, employment security to every young Indian, health security to every Indian citizen; and
- Preservation of India’s priceless spiritual, cultural and artistic heritage;
All these constitute the multiple themes that converge into the BJP’s common agenda of ‘Bharat Suraksha’.
We believe that this vision of ‘Bharat Suraksha’ can be realized only through a firm commitment to Good Governance (Sushasan), principled politics and the core values of Indian Nationalism.
The Yatra aims at carrying this inspiring vision of ‘Bharat Suraksha’ to people across the country. It seeks to make them conscious of the growing threats to ‘Bharat Suraksha’ from the Congress party’s divisive politics and the UPA government’s non-performance. The BJP believes that only united action by the people, transcending their caste, religious, linguistic and regional identities, will safeguard national interests and thwart the designs of those who seek to weaken and fragment India. The Bharat Suraksha Yatra is an earnest step in that direction.
We seek your support and participation in this patriotic undertaking.