Vajpayee carpetbombs Vidarbha, seeks a mandate to govern
V Ram in Nagpur
Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday made an impassioned plea to the electorate
to give the Bharatiya Janata Party an opportunity to govern at the Centre, now that other political
groups had failed to deliver the goods.
The BJP's prime minister-in-waiting was addressing
a late evening meeting at the Kasturchand Park in Nagpur. Earlier
in the day, Vajpayee had covered Gondia, Akola and Wardha in his
one-day tour of Vidarbha region.
Hearteningly for Vajpayee, his speech was being heard
in rapt silence by a massive gathering, estimated at over
When his 13-day government stepped down in May 1996, thanks to
the one point programme of the 13-party coalition and the Congress
to keep BJP out, the people were promised a five-year government,
Vajpayee said, but "we are already at the hustings within 18 months".
While describing general elections as the heartbeat of democracy,
Vajpayee said too fast a heartbeat certainly spelt serious problems.
Elections have been forced on this poor nation by the Congress,
he added, even as the basic needs of more than half the population
have not been met.
Vajpayee said the Congress had been decisively beaten in the 1996
election and the BJP was by far the single largest party. The Congress
had not suffered such a defeat even in 1977. But they decided
to support the UF which then had no leader or worker. Of
the 13 parties, the largest had a membership in Parliament of less than 40 and
even one-member, two-member parties were given ministership to keep the BJP out. The irony
was that the UF had fought against the Congress in the elections
and there was no common ideology among them except to spite the BJP.
The people's mandate in favour of the BJP was ignored, Vajpayee
charged. What was their morality in doing so, he asked.
But all this shows that parties in India are worried that the
BJP, once it comes to power, will be difficult to dislodge as
the party is bound to become even more popular through good governance,
He held the Congress responsible for the sorry state of
affairs in India today. The economic, social and political life
in the country has seen a steep fall in standards, and morality
has sunk to a new low. In his 40 years in Parliament and his 50
years in public life, Vajpayee said he had seen prime ministers
from Nehru to Gujral. It pained him that India
has been drawn to such a morass.
The wrong ideas about the BJP spread by the Congress and other
parties are being dismissed by the people and they are now looking
at the party with a new respect, Vajpayee asserted. From Kanyakumari
to Kashmir, he said, the BJP has spread it influence and is in
a position to get a majority. The BJP's alliance with different
parties in the states have been crafted with the idea of promoting
goodwill and co-operation, he added. He cited the alliance with
the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu as as example of north-south integration.
The BJP as a national party will have presence in TN.
said, alliances have been struck in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh,
Orissa, UP, Bihar and other states. No more can it be said that
the BJP is an untouchable, isolated party. In the meantime the
UF has broken into a thousand pieces, Vajpayee said.
The Bofors enquiry is nearing an end and the guilty are to be
soon identify and that is the reason the Congress became jittery,
Vajpayee said. The long delay in investigation was also due to
the Congress being in rule for most of the intervening period,
Vajpayee talked of the BJP's dream of India as a great country,
and felt a sense of sorrow and anger that big leaders indulged
in corruption and let down the country, to appease their own egos.
Why did the Congress withdraw support twice in 18 months, Vajpayee
Internationally, Vajpayee said, our stock had plummeted. Every
one knows development is not taking place and hundreds of thousands of villages
still do not have potable drinking water. There are 80 million unemployed,
and about 50 million of our children labour at hard tasks for a
living. About 50 per cent of the people are illiterate.
India has all the potential to be a great country, Vajpayee asserted,
indeed India is a country born to be great. The present day sorry
picture of India, he said, was only due to a lack of good leadership
and proper direction. Honesty cannot be bought from outside, he
said, it must come from within.
The Indian tradition does not confer nobility by birth but by
one's deeds. Vajpayee said. The BJP should be judged by its actions
and not by the misinformation being spread by opportunistic alliances
and parties, he told the gathering.
The BJP leader appealed to the people to vote his party to a clear
majority. Only then, Vajpayee said, would he have the chance to
lead the government and bring about a sea-change in the Indian
polity for the progress of the nation.
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