3.50 pm: Amit Shah will take party to newer heights: Modi
Speaking at the BJP National Council for the first time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear that the party has got a massive responsibility due to the huge mandate in the recent Lok Sabha polls. He also congratulated new party president Amit Shah and hoped that party would scale to newer heights under his leadership.
"Rajnath Singh was the captain of the team that led us to victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. Amit Shah was the man of the match. Had Shah not been given the responsibility of Uttar Pradesh, the country would not have known about his immense skills. I have known Shah personally for a long time. He will perform to his potential in his new responsibility and I have no doubt about that. His speech in the morning showed how the party and the government can collaborate together for the progress of the country. I can assure our new party president and our patriarch LK Advani that the government will leave no stone unturned to follow the path as shown by them," Modi said in his speech.
The prime minister said that the analysis of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls had proven difficult for the political pundits as they had not anticipated such a whirlwind performance.
"The preparation to the Lok Sabha 2014 polls began with a question who knows Narendra Modi outside Gujarat? The political pundits also had a tough time to keep tab of the fast changing events. When I had started talking about 300 seats during the campaign even my colleagues wondered why I was talking about figures. But as a person who was involved in serving the people for long I knew about the political mood. People were always willing to give but no one had the courage to ask for it before," the prime minister said.
During his speech Modi not only gave an idea about his experience as the prime minister but also mocked Congress for demanding results in such a short notice.
"Most of my time in the last two months went in cleaning and changing the work culture. Those who could not do anything in the last 60 years have already started making a noise asking for results in 60 days. I can assure you that the experience that I have gathered in the last 60 days have given me enough confidence that we can fulfill what we had promised. Isn't it great that most of the things promised in our manifesto have found place in the first budget itself and we already have a road map for them?" the prime minister asked.
In course of his nearly 40-minute speech, Modi admitted that the sweeping mandate has made his job comparatively easier than a coalition government would have.
"It is always comfortable to work in a government that has got absolute majority. I have realised that our absolute majority has also forced other countries to change the way they look upon us. They do not see us in the manner anymore that they had seen us when there was an alliance government. The world recognises that this government has come with a sweeping mandate," he said.
The prime minister also strongly defended India's stand at the WTO and said that he cannot seek positive media reports in the Western media at the expense of his poor countrymen. He also attacked the previous UPA government for bowing down to international pressure.
"For us the country is more important than the party. On the WTO issue, we have chosen a path where there will be food on the plate for the poor and allow our farmers to survive. We have chosen a path where the foreign media won't write accolades about us but instead took the right decision for our country. I am horrified that a party which had asked for votes on the basis of food security bill had signed an agreement in the WTO that was completely anti-poor," Modi said.
Not taking the name of any other political party, the prime minister also expressed disappointment over the frequent communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh.
"The BJP cannot accept any incident that disturbs peace. Unity and peace are the pre-condition for development. The parties which had lost so badly in the recent polls are still clinging on to their vote bank and divisive politics. BJP will not allow that and will go forward taking every one along," Modi said. His words assume significance as Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had repeatedly blamed the BJP for causing communal divide ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls which are couple of years away.
The prime minister also wanted the BJP to become a party with a difference in the crowd of many political parties.
"There should be at least 100-200 BJP primary member in every polling booth of the country. There should be horizontal and vertical development in the party. In this crowd of political parties, BJP has to come out as a party of difference. There should be thematic years for the BJP where in each year the party will create awareness about an issue of national interest. For instance, we can take energy saving as a theme in one year. We will go to every household and explain why India needs to save energy and save on the massive amount of money that goes out in importing crude oil and coal. For our party, the bars of performance are set high and the scrutiny is strict. But we are ready to accept the challenge," Modi said.
Giving his observations how the nature of democracy in the country should be, he said, "There is need to take representative democracy forward as a participatory democracy. Each and every worker of the party is worthy of praise for the brilliant results in the recent Lok Sabha polls. All must realise that we are not saplings but a banyan tree that can offer shadow to many. Our mantra is move forward constantly without rest serving the nation."
3.21 pm: Found this council meet most organised of all: Advani
BJP patriarch LK Advani shares his experiences with his party colleagues.
"I liked the fact that the achievements of the new government were given to us in the form of literature. This saved us ample time as the speakers did not have to go for long speeches. As a result of that we have already discussed in detail the pre- and post-poll strategies of the next Assembly elections," said BJP patriarch LK Advani in the BJP National Council.
"I have never seen such an organised BJP National Council since 1951," Advani said. "I had requested party chief Amit Shah to let only Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak in the post-lunch session. But Shah told me that I must speak even if for a short time and I cannot but obey the first order of my new party head," he said.
Talking about the resounding victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, Advani said, "This is an unbelievable victory in the polls. No one had dared to predict more than 45 seats in Uttar Pradesh. But look at the results. Despite the great victory in the Lok Sabha polls, there is not a feeling of over-confidence but responsibility in the party. Under Narendra Modi, the party had run a very disciplined campaign. All workers of the BJP have realised the importance of the victory. In all the speeches so far I have marked the sense of accountability and responsibility because of this great victory. It is our duty to pledge that we will serve India with utmost respect as expected by this mandate."
The BJP patriarch also congratulated new party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their new responsibilities.
1.15 pm: Shah's fighting speech impresses party cadre
Firstpost political editor Sanjay Singh who is at the BJP National council, says that Shah's speech has really impressed the party cadre.
"The speech was very well received and the cadre were enthused by his call to elections", Singh said. He also said that the party venue was well santised and security was tight, calling it an obvious marker that here was a party that was in power.
12.40 pm: UPA has ruined the country, says FM Arun Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's speech is very much focused on ruing the damage done to India by the Congress. And he is laying the blame squarely on the Gandhi family.
"We have to understand why the Congress lost so badly. It was their dependence on one family. Such family dynasties have received a shock with this electoral verdict."
He goes on to list, in excruciating detail, exactly what the Gandhi-led Congress has done wrong:
* " In 10 years Congress has emptied out entire road building sector. No one wants to come forward now."
* "Industrial growth which can generate employment is in the negative now"
* "To cover up corruption the UPA misused and made corrupt constitutional institutions.
* "The UPA for three years told the SC that it wouldn't make a SIT to bring black money from abroad. Within days of coming to power the Modi govt set up an SIT to bring back black money".
* "Under UPA, industry wasn't just not coming to India, even Indian industry was going abroad"
* "Govt is working to sweeten relations with every neighbouring nation unlike the UPA"
"They were a liability on the economy of this country when they were in power, they want to continue to be a liability when they are in opposition", he said.
He also defended the BJP's WTO stand, saying that if they stuck to it, they would have been forced to stop disbursing food grain to the poor.
12.12 pm: Situation in UP is very worrying, says Amit Shah
The prevalent situation in Uttar Pradesh also finds mention in Shah's speech, and fittingly so. The latest incident of the alleged gangrape and forced conversion of a Hindu woman in Meerut is only the latest in a string of communal incidents that have taken place across the state. Parliament has also been in an uproar over the situation, with the latest controversy being fuelled by an unusually vocal Rahul Gandhi, who has accused the party of 'artificially engineering' the riots.
The condition of Uttar Pradesh is very worrying. It is indulging in vote bank politics and is implementing law and order accordingly. We should show people how the UP govt is indulging in appeasement policies. But we have a responsibility to ensure peace in Uttar Pradesh, because they have rewarded us with so many seats in this election".
He then moves back into poll mode.
Every election the party should contest with all its heart. We have been in opposition for years, we need to change our mentality.We have to take govt's policies to people. We have to act as a bridge between the govt and the people. There is only victory in the future. Bharat Mata ki jai.
12.00 pm: Shah gets down to business, swings BJP back into poll mode
And now after the Ganga we move to Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir.
"There will be state elections in 4 states soon. It is very important that BJP comes to power in all states. The condition in Jammu & Kashmir is very sad and the current government is running an establishment filled with corruption. It is not only the responsibility of state BJP activists but every state activist to ensure BJP wins there. Both the political families of J&K have misused the money meant for progress of state", he said.
"I appeal to people of Jharkhand to give us a chance and I promise we will make it as good as Chhattisgarh. Haryana unit should work to ensure party comes to power on its own. We can look at an alliance if needed. After 15 years of Congress rule, people of Maharashtra have shown their intent to elect a BJP govt."
He is referring of course to the resounding victory of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. The BJP won 23 seats and the Sena won 18, routing the ruling Congress - NCP combine.
Shah also warns against the BJP falling to the same fate that befell Congress. "We should make our party strong in every state to ensure we can come to power no matter when polls are held. We need to take every election from panchayat to Parliament seriously. First it was Congress Vs everyone else but now it will be BJP Vs everyone else. An example of this is in Bihar where Nitish Kumar who was strongly opposed to Lalu Prasad is now in an alliance with him. We should expose Nitish Kumar to the people when the polls are held in the state".
11.56 am: Shah says BJP's WTO stand shows party stands with the poor
Continuing with the argument that the BJP is being identified as a party batting for the interests of the poor, Shah points to the WTO stand taken by India.
"We have made our stance clear at the WTO that our primary duty is towards the farmer, poor. We won't give up interests of the poor, farmers no matter what."
He also has words of praise for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. "Arun Jaitley has given a stellar budget that doesn't tax the common man of this country."
From the WTO to the Ganga. It certainly seems as though Amit Shah is making sure he has left nothing out in this speech.
After talking about international trade stances, the new BJP President says, "If there is one issue in the manifesto that I want to highlight it is the rejuvenation of Ganga. It is tragic that we can't preserve the Ganga with which our culture is so closely linked. If the Ganga abhiyaan is a people's movement then the river wouldn't be in this condition. Take the Ganga abhiyaan to the people and make it a people's movement."
11.45 am: BJP victory is a victory of ideology, says Shah
The new president has called the BJP electoral victory a victory of ideology. For decades only the Congress school of thought has dominated politics and society. We are going in a new direction. It is only after 1980 that our ideology began to be accepted by the people of this nation", he said.
"It is now time that our school of thought is also spread in the nation."
This is a powerful ideological statement. Shah highlights exactly what he means by this saying, "We won't get a better chance to take our ideals to the people. We need to introduce the people to the ideologies on Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. We also need to strengthen the party's organisation. We cannot stay in power long otherwise".
He goes on to attack the UPA tenure. When history will be written, UPA-1, UPA-2 will be known as the "sarkaar of ghotalas"
11.37 am: Shah thanks workers for BJP's success
Shah is now talking about the BJP's astounding electoral performance. He starts by highlighting the fact that unlike in 2004, the BJP now has a majority on its own. Is this significant given that his elevation is being seen as the cementing of a total departure from the Vajpayee era? Possibly.
"I believe in the history of independent India that this was the biggest campaign to reach out to the people. We used many ways to reach out to the people that helped us. Lakhs of activists have worked to ensure our success on various mediums including Facebook and Twitter. In this election we got a 31% voteshare which no non-Congress party has ever received. I want to thank every organisation that helped us achieve this success."
This is an indirect nod to the RSS, whose cadres worked overtime this election to ensure Modi's victory. This has been largely seen as one of the biggest contributing factors to the BJP's win.
However like Rajnath Singh, he is warning the party not to rest on its laurels. "There are other states which are still not Congress-free. There are many parts of the nation where the party still needs to be strengthened", he said.
He also called the victory "a defeat of parties that indulge in vote bank politics."
11.30 am: Amit Shah makes first official speech to BJP cadre
Amit Shah is making his first official address to the BJP cadre after being ratified as President. Like Modi, he has chosen to highlight his humble origins, and talk about how the party has given him this greatest of opportunities. "None of our former leaders have come from political homes and have instead worked their way up", he said.
" I believe that I couldn't have achieved what I have in any other party but the BJP". Cue applause.
Shah also unsurprisingly has words of praise for his mentor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"It was when we declared Narendra Modi our PM candidate that poor of nation backed us. The party is moving ahead as a party that will represent the interests of the poor. Thanks to this a man who was a common karyakarta will hoist the national flag on Independence day".
11.20 am: Modi, Advani felicitate new president, Amit Shah
After the standing ovation come the bouquets.
LK Advani, the 'spiritual' leader of the BJP is the first to felicitate Shah as BJP President, placing a shawl on his shoulders. He was followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also handed him a bouquet of flowers.
Shah's elevation as BJP President is largely seen as the total 'modi-fication' of the BJP.
As mentioned in this Firstpost article:
The appointment is being hailed as a 'new era' not only because it marks a generational in the party or because it marks Prime Minister Narendra Modi's complete domination over both party and government, but also because it marks a total departure from the Vajpayee era.
There is no doubt that Amit Shah is Modi’s protégé. But if the run up to the 2014 parliamentary election put Modi on a completely different pedestal as a mass leader, then they also signified the emergence of Amit Shah as a leader, strategist and an organisational man who could deliver over and above what was expected of him.
According to Firstpost political editor Sanjay Singh:
Shah had clearly emerged to be most suitable candidate for the post, but somebody had to lobby on his behalf with the RSS, sources said. Since Modi’s relationship with him was all too well known, it would have been inappropriate for him to do so. Therefore it was left to Nitin Gadkari to convince the RSS top brass. Gadkari, the former party chief and current union minister continues to enjoy a close personal rapport with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Incumbent party chief Rajnath Singh who had to vacate the post after becoming home minister, was in agreement as well.
11.15 am: Under Narendra Modi, Amit Shah India will become 'jagat guru' again, says Rajnath Singh
Rajnath Singh is now exhorting BJP workers not to take their massive mandate for granted.
"We have a mandate but I appeal but we shouldn't take it for granted. We need to work harder now and the mandate should drive us forward. Today we should work with the motto: Join with the soul of Bharat".
The speech ends with Singh appealing to the BJP national council to ratify Shah's presidency saying, "I am sure under Narendra Modi, Amit Shah India will become 'jagat guru' again"
This is greeted with massive applause and a standing ovation.
11.00 am: BJP national council gets underway
The BJP national council at the Nehru stadium in Delhi has got underway. Former President Rajnath Singh is now addressing the 3,000 party workers gathered for the occasion.
"I have worked in many posts and handled many responsibilities. This is not possible in any other party", he says. "Congress neither has cadre nor any specific ideology". It looks like the BJP is back in poll mode.
Not dwelling on Congress for too long however, Rajnath Singh begins the introduction of Amit Shah - whose ratification is the reason for the national council. "Some people may question why Amit Shah should be party president. Amit Shah's devotion to the party cannot be questioned."
Singh relates an anecdote meant to show off Shah's devotion: When he was filling his LIC form he had nominated the ABVP as his nominee. Cue sentimental sniffs. The ABVP is the BJP student wing that has been primarily behind the UPSC protests, demanding the scrapping of the CSAT examination. This has incidentally been giving the BJP quite a tough time in Parliament. No word on Shah's opinion on this though.
Singh also praised the new BJP president's performance in Uttar Pradesh.
The UP election results, where the BJP won an unprecedented 73 out of 80 seats, catapulted Shah to the status of a leader and prompted the BJP and RSS to elevate him to the topmost post in the organisation. It will be incumbent on him to outline his strategy to consolidate the sudden spurt in popular support for the BJP in areas where the party already has a strong presence and take it forward in areas where encouraging signs came up, in the east and south.
9.45 am: Amit Shah to be ratified as BJP President today
The 3000-member strong National Council is meeting to ratify the elevation of Modi's protege Amit Shah to the post of BJP president at the Nehru stadium in Delhi today. The session, to be held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, will start with Shah's ratification as new party chief and conclude with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address.
For Shah, this will be his first face to face interaction with party workers. He has to inspire confidence in his ability to lead.
The UP election results, where the BJP won an unprecedented 73 out of 80 seats, catapulted him to the status of a leader and prompted the BJP and RSS to elevate him to the topmost post in the organisation. It will be incumbent on him to outline his strategy to consolidate the sudden spurt in popular support for the BJP in areas where the party already has a strong presence and take it forward in areas where encouraging signs came up, in the east and south.
But at the moment, his primary focus will be to make his party battle ready for assembly elections.
The national council will also adopt a political resolution that will focus on the political and economic issues as well as the initiatives taken by the BJP-led NDA government and its roadmap ahead.
This is the first meeting of the party's national council after the BJP's victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
Apart from the ratification of Amit Shah as party president, the other highlight will be Narendra Modi's speech, which will mark his first major interaction with the party since his election.
In Modi, the BJP currently see their hero. It will be interesting to see what he says to lift their morale further. This will in fact, be the Prime Minister's first political speech after a gap of two months. His last was on 11 June when he spoke in Parliament to conclude the motion of the thanks to the President's address, during a joint session of Parliament. That speech was widely appreciated.
Since then a number of developments have taken place.
Domestically, he has been through a number of challenges, juxtaposed with some successful foreign trips, most notably to Bhutan and Nepal. The issue of price rise is still a major concern and there have been instances of communal flare ups, particularly in UP, the state he now represents. And the Congress has successfully stalled, at least for now, the Insurance bill, which would have signalled his resolve to push economic reforms.
At the national council today, he will be among his own people, all of whom believe in him and untiringly sweated it out to make him Prime Minister.
He has to outline a plan for the party for the coming assembly elections elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand. On the sidelines, he also has to take a view on the fate of Delhi assembly, particularly in a situation when the Delhi High Court has given the centre a five week deadline to decide what to do next.
LK Advani will make the concluding remarks, which BJP has so far called, margdarshan (guidance). Advani’s speech will get a lot of attention, both within and outside, with attention likely to be focused on how he endorses the functioning of the Modi government and what he suggests for the future.
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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2014 17:06:50 IST