Monday, 1 December 2014

Members of revolution...!

“BJP’s membership campaign kicked off on 1st Nov 2014 where PM Narendra Modi became the first member by the national president Amit Shah. Since then, the party has crossed a figure of one crore from all over India. In an earlier campaign done six years ago, the number reached three crores. This membership campaign is different in more than one way. To begin with, a political party has made use of the technology which is a unique experiment, not only for BJP but for all political parties. This will make other parties take notice and change their traditional ways of functioning. This campaign will undoubtedly have long-term effect on Indian politics.

In the past, the party workers approached people to become members or so they projected! But with this new method of giving missed calls, we have ensured transparency in the membership process. Earlier it wasn’t easy for people to directly participate but now membership is open to everyone. So, when we appealed to people to be members on 1st Nov, around 7 lakh people registered from all over within few hours! It was an overwhelming response!

Looking back, we have come a long way since Jan Sangh days in 1951. That was a difficult time for the Jan Sangh and nobody wanted to be associated with it. Gandhiji’s assassination was fresh in the public memory and there were needless attempts to blame the Jan Sangh for it. Also, the freedom struggle against the British rule was fresh under the Congress leadership. Congress leaders were actively leading on all levels. Nehru was a very tall leader then and had a huge influence on the masses. On this backdrop, it was a challenge in itself to reach out to people with a different and that too, a tarnished ideology.

In 1980, BJP came into being after splitting from Janata Party but even this was a tough time for the party in terms of public support. In 1970, the students’ movement (Navnirman Andolan) against the political corruption gained momentum under the leadership of Jaiprakash Narayan. What followed was a fight against emergency and Janata party’s short-lived government. These events somewhat eased the public sentiment against the Jan Sangh but still there was no acceptance of their ideology.

So in a way, it was a new beginning all over again for the BJP. Between1980 to 2009, the party tried various drives, experiments and campaigns to spread its wings but met with a limited success. The party could not grow strongly in all parts of the country. There is no denying that we didn’t have effective presence in three parts of the country like South India and North East and Eastern India.

After 2012 though, the political scene changed rapidly with BJP consistently winning Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Our leaders from these states lived upto people’s expectations and that too in a difficult time when the country’s economy was not doing well. These three states performed quite well in agriculture, industrial and social spheres which naturally attracted people to us. All over India, especially in Maharashtra, the political corruption was at its peak but these three states had no corruption which didn’t go unnoticed by people. All these led to a public opinion of BJP being a party with an agenda of all-inclusive growth and good governance. In addition, the rise of Narendra Modi's leadership and his charisma was also one of the factors that turned the things around for the party. Despite numerous hurdles and opposition from every quarter, he developed Gujarat which was duly appreciated. In comparison to leaderships of other political parties, Modij’s leadership was a welcome change that helped BJP’s credibility and popularity grow by leaps n bounds.

Earlier, despite door to door campaigns, we failed to get many supporters but things have reversed today. People are approaching party offices to join. In the past too, people have shown support to various parties but never this strong!

Five to seven years after 1947, people wanted to become congress members. West Bengal and Kerala, saw the support of people to the communists. Recently, Anna Hazare’s agitation in Delhi attracted people for a short time on which AAP capitalised.

Today, BJP is getting an unprecedented support which can be only compared to the Congress’s in the decade of 40’s during the freedom struggle. Seventy years later, people are firmly behind the BJP for creating a prosperous and self-reliant nation with good governance. The response to BJP’s membership drive is a sign of the fundamental change in political aspirations.”

---As told to Mrudula Varaskar

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ready to roar...!

“It has been over a month since assembly election results were declared. Speculations were rife of new political equations, alliances, breakups though none of them came true!

These elections were historical in a true sense if one considers the significant shift of political ideologies of the voters. BJP got 27% vote share, Shivsena 19.3% while vote shares of NCP and Congress’s were 17.2 and 18% respectively. In short, 48-49% votes were against congress -influenced socialism and pseudo-secularism. Almost half of Maharashtra voted for national Hindutva.

But, this pivotal shift in voting preferences has been largely ignored by the so-called political pundits. They have still not been able to accept the reality of people’s changed views and election results. This self-proclaimed `progressive’ tribe of intellectuals lives in their own bubble! At least now they should see the tilt towards National Hindutva which got the combined strength of 186 seats with BJP’s 123 and Shivsena’s 63. More than two third of the electorate has rejected congressi pseudo- secularism and socialism. This mandate needs to be analysed sincerely.

Now that the new government has won the trust vote, people have entrusted us with a huge responsibility and we are already delivering! Be it getting Industrial licences in flat three days, cutting down the political interference in government transfers or other administrative reforms; our new government is committed to bring in a new era of good governance. Bureaucrats who parked themselves in ministers’ cabins for years for their personal interests are shown the door. Administrative officers on APMCs have been dismissed and elections will now be held democratically. Similarly, fair key decisions have been taken about college elections. In less than a month, our government has taken giant steps towards good governance and this is just the beginning!

But a litmus test lies for others. Especially for those knights-in-shining-armour who seem so concerned about Maharashtra’s growth and future! The least they can do for the state is stop playing heads or tails and take a firm stand! We have already chosen our path and have begun our journey. It is upto others if they want to join hands!

Our next course of action is going to be a strict crackdown against various scams of previous governments. Those who will not cooperate or create hurdles in this pursuit, will be clearly shielding the corruption and the corrupt! They might try and package their resistance under the glittering wrappers of asmita but their true intentions will be exposed in no time once the crackdown begins!”

......As told to Mrudula Varaskar

Monday, 17 November 2014


"From the time the state election results declared, Shivsena has played the politics of opportunism and vendetta. There hasn’t been any firm political stand or ideology, or rather, the only ideology is –what do I have in it?! This brand of politics is new for Maharashtra! Shivsena has been largely responsible for the breakup of our alliance. It didn’t agree to compromise even on one seat. They wanted us to have only 119 seats when we won 123 and they wanted to keep 170-171 and they won only 63! Even after these dismal results, their leadership has not been able to decipher the public mood.

On the day of results too, during first two hours of counting, our then President and now CM, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis categorically said that Shivsena is our natural alliance. We were clear that in case BJP doesn’t get majority and need to form an alliance, Shivsena will be our obvious choice! Even to that, Shivsena's response was ridiculous that they would consider alliance only if offered CM's post! And this, after winning less than 65 seats! Since then till date, they have only played politics of hatred, bringing up Modiji's father or calling our National President Amitbhai Shah Aurangjeb /Adil Shah or humiliating us in every possible way. Now, they expect important portfolios with a great respect from us! If we are Afzalhkan and Adil Shah, then why is Shivsena so desperate to be part of our government? They are totally blinded by lust for power and despite voters' outright rejection, they want to create a hype around them as sole saviours of Maharashtra!

Last from them was that we should explain our stand on NCP's support! We had nothing to clarify as we didn’t seek the support of NCP and when we submitted our proposal to Governor, we only mentioned the support of independents with NCP being nowhere in picture. Either Shivsena doesn’t understand this or chooses not to understand and is simply going about maligning us with NCP. This reeks of political immaturity. In fact, few days before the trust vote, Shivsena had secret backdoor meetings with various NCP leaders to form a government. Earlier, after the results were declared, they tried shaking hands with congress to form a government but congress refused. But do they even understand the simple maths of majority, I wonder! Shivsena leadership seems to only indulge in politics of name-calling and envy. On one side, they talk about Maharashtra's interest but never once they thought of offering a stable government to the state.

Interestingly, Shivsena's logic is that if BJP forms an alliance with NCP, it is a betrayal of voters but if Shivsena and NCP come together, it is in Maharashtra's interest! This same Sharad Pawar against whom they spat so much venom as an enemy of Hindutva or someone who coined the term saffron terror or a supporter of all things green, suddenly becomes their ally? They have no problem with sudden shifts of opinions about Sharad Pawar. Can they explain these double-standards, would they even care to explain? I have my serious doubts! Uddhav Thackeray seemed confused on his party’s stand. He feared that a big section of Shiv Sena would revolt against him and break up if they were denied the opportunity to join the government. So, he kept on delaying the negotiations and floated various theories from time to time. Thackeray tried to show that he attempted till last minute to join the government but actually he only tried to pass the buck to the BJP. Is this not hypocrisy?

Shivsena's politics of opportunism, arm-twisting and flip-flops of ideologies, will not only cost them dearly in future but will set a dangerous and unfortunate precedent in Maharashtra's politics. "

---As told to Mrudula Varaskar

Why this space!

Namaskar! Many of my friends, specially from the media insist that I should write regularly. Nice suggestion nad easier said than done given the nature of my work and schedules.

The platform that offers a total freedom to express surely seems interesting and intimidating at the same time. Interesting because the medium is interactive, flexible yet powerful. Intimidating for the commitment of time and discipline it demands! As you can imagine last few months have been pretty hectic. But now, as our new government in the state settles in, things should get back to normal. So, I am hoping that it will afford me luxury of some time to share my views on many things political and few personal, at times! I already have a blog in Marathi but for reaching out to wider readership, I am starting one in English too. Words may be different but they will tell the same story!

So, here I am... I will certainly appreciate your feedback and discussions on the keep them coming...