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Text of Advani's speech at Kanyakumari
March 11, 2004 14:01 IST
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Tamil Makkalakkum En Idayam Kaninda Vanakkamgal (My heartfelt pranaams to the people of Tamil Nadu).
I am indeed privileged that I am starting my Bharat Uday Yatra from Kanyakumari today. Kanyakumari occupies a unique place in the life and physical persona of Bharat. It is not merely the name of a town. Kanyakumari is where the feet of Bharat Mata are washed by the three seas.
It is a symbol of India's unity and India's greatness. Every Indian learns his first lesson in patriotism by learning about the two ends of our vast country -- Kashmir in the north and Kanyakumari in the south.
Today I offer my prananam to Thiruvalluvar, the great saint poet of Tamil Nadu, in whose memory stands a monument at Kanyakumari. His poetry contains gems of wisdom on every facet of life.
Today I pay my respects to the great Tamil Poet, Rashtrakavi Subramanya Bharathi. This poet of the freedom movement continues to inspire us even today with his message of national unity. From north to south and from east to west, India is a very diverse nation. People speak different languages. They belong to different castes and religions. They dress differently. They also look different. Bharathi reminds us that, in spite of all this diversity, there has always been an underlying unity that binds all of us in a single Indian family.
In one of his poems that pays tribute to Kanyakumari, Bharathi has expressed this beautifully:
Kaardar ponmudi vaan iamayam thari Gangai varambilluin Kannaiyai vandhoru then disai orkali kaadhal seyaa idaiyum.... (With the Himalayas as the crown and the Ganges adoring her, this land extends down south to Kanyakumari with countless patriots singing Vande Mataram).
Today I also bow my head at the feet of Swami Vivekananda. It is here in Kanyakumari, on a rock in the Indian Ocean, that Swamiji spent a few days in meditation in 1892. Today there is a Rock Memorial in his memory, built with small contributions from millions of ordinary Indians all over the country. It stands as a magnificent symbol of India's unity and her priceless spiritual heritage.
I am in Tamil Nadu. Your state has a long and proud history of proclaiming the greatness of Tamil tradition as an integral part of the Indian heritage. The greatest leader to affirm Dravidian pride was Annadurai. I pay my respects to the memory of this charismatic leader who cared for his people and cared for India.
I also pay tribute to MGR, another charismatic leader and another great son of Tamil Nadu. I am happy that Dr Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who is a courageous inheritor of the legacy of both Anna Durai and MGR, has made the AIADMK a valued partner of the BJP. I appeal to the people of Tamil Nadu to support our alliance.
Rebirth of India
Some people ask me why I have called my yatra as 'Bharat Uday Yatra'. Bharat is, in a sense, eternal. Mother India has lived since time immemorial. So how can there by 'uday' of Bharat, I have been asked?
Bharat is indeed ageless. But this ancient nation of ours has a limitless capacity to renew itself, whenever history saps her vital energy. When this happens, it seems that a new India is being born. It happened when India was born as a free Nation in 1947, casting off several centuries of alien rule.
In the ensuing five decades, India did make significant progress in many fields. Nevertheless, it was felt by one and all that our performance as a nation is far below our potential. It was also felt that this happened principally because the party that had won the people' mandate to rule India did not rise to the occasion. In the latter half of the '70s, the situation became truly worrisome. The Congress had willfully and wantonly destabilised polity. Dark clouds of uncertainty gathered over the world's largest democracy. Instability and misrule naturally had the effect of debilitating the development process and worsening many problems before the nation.
We in the Bharatiya Janata Party, along with our allies in the National Democratic Alliance, are proud that, under the able and visionary leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, we have been able to take India away from the vortex of instability, uncertainty and relative immobility.
After six years in office, we have brought our country to a point where the entire international community recognises that it is a New India rising proudly and confidently as a global power in the making.
Today India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Experts reckon that in a few decades, India will overtake many of the world's established economic powers. Not only our achievements have increased, but our aspirations too have soared. For the first time since Independence, India has decided not to keep the tag of a 'developing country' anymore but to become a developed nation. A decade ago, this would have seemed a tall order; today it looks entirely achievable within the lifespan of a generation.
Blend of nationalism and development
I said that Kanyakumari evokes a strong emotion of nationalism in our hearts. But today Kanyakumari also evokes a vision of development. It is from here that our highway project, the largest and the most ambitious infrastructure project since Independence, runs northwards to go all the way up to Kashmir. Indeed, my yatra will run on the roads that are being converted into world class highways at a speed never seen in India before.
The highway project is only one part of the comprehensive Connectivity Revolution that the Vajpayee government has inaugurated in India. Highway connectivity, rural roads connectivity, rail connectivity, air connectivity, port connectivity, telecom and internet connectivity, river connectivity, connectivity between India and the world, and connectivity between Bharatvaasis and Bharatvanshis.
I realise that here in Tamil Nadu, people have cherished the dream of 'Sethu Samudram' for a long time. I spoke about port connectivity. The central government has drawn up a major programme called 'Sagar Mala' to modernise port infrastructure along both our eastern and western coasts and to develop inland shipping. As part of the 'Sagar Mala' project, I assure the people of Tamil Nadu that your cherished dream of 'Sethu Samudram' will be realised soon.
To me, the most important part of this Connectivity Revolution is the emotional connectivity binding one billion Indians. From time immemorial, people from all parts of India have been speaking in one common heart language even when they speak in different tongues. That common language is the language of Indianness. One of the purposes of my 'Bharat Uday Yatra' is to further strengthen this Indianness this heart connectivity between all the peoples from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
I believe that the emotional energy of nationalism and the aspirational energy of development can combine to propel India to new heights of greatness and glory.
India, more secure than ever before
India's national security is stronger than ever since Independence. Unlike the Congress governments in the past, which buckled under external pressure, the Vajpayee government made India a nuclear weapons nation and courageously withstood criticism and sanctions from big powers.
India has succeeded significantly in overcoming the menace of cross-border terrorism. Our firm actions have made anti-India forces realise that they cannot frighten us, much less get the better of us. Our internal security apparatus, whose critical needs were ignored during the long Congress rule, is today stronger than ever before.
The Vajpayee government has shown its sincerity and capability to tackle many problems it has inherited from the past. For example, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed a turnaround which few believed was possible earlier. Similarly, extremist trouble in the North East is now on the wane and peace talks are yielding positive results.
In another history making initiative, our government has begun a peace process with Pakistan, which seemed unthinkable even a few years ago. The magnitude of the turnaround in this case can be gauged simply by recalling the Kargil War which broke out before the 1999 polls. In the elections to the 13th Lok Sabha, our strong point was that Vajpayeeji led the country to a victory in the war against Pakistan. In the elections to the 14th Lok Sabha, our strong point is that Vajpayeeji is making earnest efforts to lead India to a lasting peace with Pakistan.
In the past five years, we have conducted India's external relations in such an active and self confident manner that foreign policy has become one of the crowning achievements of the Vajpayee government. Today India stands taller than ever before on the world stage.
India's time has come
All these accomplishments, taken together, presage a stage in the journey of free India. It is to reflect this new reality of India, her new vitality, her new achievements, and her new ambitions that I decided to call my yatra as 'Bharat Uday Yatra.'
Through this yatra, I will try to project India's achievements in the past 5-6 years and thus give expression to the mood of hope and self confidence that now pervades the country. But that is not the only purpose of my yatra. I will also explain the enormous challenges that still lie ahead of us and assure the people that the BJP and the NDA are fully committed to tackle them.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, I seek your support and good wishes as I embark on my yatra from Kanyakumari. I seek the blessings of all the great saints, poets and patriots of Tamil Nadu both present and past today. I thank all the dignitaries who have come here at our invitation.
And I thank you for coming in large numbers and listening to me with 'patience.
For the next 8,000 kilometeres on the road, I will have one simple message to all my countrymen through Bharat Uday Yatra: "India's time has come. Our journey towards prosperity for all, towards India's all round development and towards India as a Great Power has begun. The 21st century will become India's century. Let us walk together on this journey, and let us work together in this mission."