As the BJP declared that “every election, from panchayat to Parliament” is important to “expand its electoral and ideological influence”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down a seven-point code of conduct Monday for his party leaders and workers in the countdown to 2017 when key states, including Uttar Pradesh, go to assembly elections.
In an emotional speech to the nearly 200-member BJP national executive in Allahabad, Modi said mere slogans were not enough. “The country needs to be strengthened. People are not happy with mere slogans, their concern is about the country being strengthened,” he was quoted as having said.
Briefing reporters on the Prime Minister’s address, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Modi listed seven points that party leaders and workers must keep in mind in their daily dealings and behaviour: sevabhav (service), santulan (balance), saiyam (restraint), samanvaya (coordination), sakaratmak (constructive), samvedana (sensitivity) and samvad (dialogue).
“These should reflect in your behaviour and policies,” Modi was quoted as having said.
“To us, power is not happiness but responsibility. Every bit of us should be devoted to fulfil this responsibility.” Modi cited the example of Shivaji for whom power was “not enjoyment but full of responsibilities” and said he drew inspiration from him.
“I have pledged to devote every bit of myself and every moment of my life to this nation,” he said.
He read from a letter that Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya had written to his uncle, asking the family not to criticise him for devoting all his time to the service of the nation. Sources said the Prime Minister asked party colleagues not to be bothered by criticism from political opponents.
Pointing out that the BJP was in power at the Centre and in states, he said: “We should not use power to show our might to the people, but use it for the benefit of society and its development.”
A BJP general secretary, who heard the address, later said: “He was emotional. He went on to give all of us the message that we have to keep in mind. We all got the message.”
The code of conduct comes at a time when the government at the Centre enters its third year and the party prepares for electoral battles in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand among other states. The party, which has projected corruption-free governance as its major achievement, faced embarrassment recently when it had to force its Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse to resign after corruption charges were levelled against him.
On Sunday, Modi asked BJP office-bearers to avoid complacency and defeat opponents with work. The message that went out on the first day of the national executive meeting was that while the BJP wanted to keep development as its main plank and project the Modi government’s initiatives, the party would stick to its soft Hindutva agenda by highlighting issues like alleged mass exodus of Hindus from Kairana in communally-sensitive western Uttar Pradesh.
Reminding party leaders that they were “witnessing history being made”, Modi said the country should not miss a second chance after losing the first chance for industrialisation. “Though opportunities don’t knock twice, I can see India has a chance as the country is on the verge of an industrial revolution,” he said.
Addressing reporters in Allahabad, Jaitley said the current time is politically “crucial” for the BJP because “from a geographical perspective, the party is growing stronger in places were we have historically been weak… in states like Kerala, Assam and West Bengal”.
“The two objectives of this executive meet were to analyse the current political situation and how to take the party forward. The other objective is to maintain and increase the country’s economic growth amid a global slowdown,” he said.
In its political resolution, the party urged workers in states like Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, where the party’s vote share increased in the recent elections, “to take the mandate to new heights”. Specially mentioning the BJP victory in Assam, the resolution noted the “demographic invasion the state has faced from unchecked infiltration from neighbouring Bangladesh for decades.”
Maintaining that the victory in Assam was the people’s acceptance of its promises on security from infiltrators and their champions and apologists, the resolution, which has eight paragraphs on Assam, said the win was not just another victory but “a major ideological victory”. It also complimented the “heroic efforts” of party workers in Kerala who worked in an “atmosphere of violence and intimidation mainly orchestrated by Marxist party”.
“For the BJP, every election, from panchayat to Parliament, is an important one to expand its electoral and ideological influence,” the resolution stated.