It is twenty-five years since the party was born on April 6,1980. Yet it looks as if that happened only yesterday. The Jan Sangh workers converged in large numbers at Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi. The party men were passing through a period of mixed feelings. On the one hand was a sense of relief that we came out of the Janata Party because of humiliation the party men faced for their affiliation with the Rastriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), and, on the other, the hope and determination to make the new party a grand success. The same emotion echoed in the speeches of leaders. Eventually, with support of the people BJP came into being with the soul of Jana Sangh. This was evident, in the least, from the nomenclature, flag and constitution of the party. Even now, when critics talk about the relationship between RSS and BJP, they forget to appreciate that the BJP came into being with RSS as its soul. BJP is associated with the RSS right from its inception and it will remain so forever. At times relationships do pass through testing times but the BJP is proud of its association with the RSS through thick and thin.
The first Mahadhiveshan of the party was held at Samta Nagar, Bandra in Mumbai on December 28, 29 and 30 in 1980. On that occasion Justice MC Chagla had forecast: "Who says there is no alternative to the Congress? The only alternative to the Congress is there in front of me. I see a future Prime Minister in Atalji." And his prophetic words turned out to be true 16 years later. In 1996, BJP emerged as the single largest party in Lok Sabha. Atalji took oath as Prime Minister of India. Two years later, Atalji became the Prime Minister again and was successful in running the government effectively and smoothly for six years. It proved that the oath taken in 1996 was not an accident. Within 25 years the BJP under the leadership of Atalji tasted power at the Centre for six years -- not a mean achievement by any standards. Similarly, BJP was also voted into power in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Jharkhand, Chattissgarh and Arunachal Pradesh. This again is a big achievement for the Party. Our role as a coalition partner in the state governments in Maharashtra, Orissa and Punjab is a proof of our strength in these states. In Parliament the party stands represented from all parts of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Andaman Nicobar Islands except Kerala. The party is proud to emerge as the single largest party in Karnataka Assembly.
There was a spate of speculations that our party was on the verge of extinction. Doubts were raised on Shri Chagla's forecast and his statement became a matter of derision.
Our success story doesn't end here. Our decisive role in the election of the President and Vice-President of India gives an ample proof of our strength in both the Houses and it reflects our popularity among the masses. Sometimes it looks like a divine blessing or something else. The committed workers have taken the party on a road to success overcoming obstacles and odds on the way. Our journey has taken us to the path of victory to the Party through a succession of wins and losses. Party has faced severe criticism and scathing attacks in between.
Anyway, journey to the corridors of power was full of excitement. It had its share of thrilling moments. Within four years of its birth the party had to suffer its worst electoral reverses when in 1984 it had almost been wiped out. Riding on the strength of a giant sympathy wave aroused by the assassination of Smt Indira Gandhi the Congress managed to register an unprecedented victory where all the opposition parties suffered severe setbacks. Even the giants, like Atalji, lost in the election. BJP was reduced to a strength of two members in 542-member Lok Sabha. The period between 1980 and 1989 was the most challenging one in the entire history of the BJP. There was a spate of speculations that our party was on the verge of extinction. Doubts were raised on Shri Chagla's forecast and his statement became a matter of derision. Our fortune changed after 1989. In 1989 BJP came to power in Delhi Pradesh for nine years and continued. On the one hand, the first nine years after its birth were full of frustration for BJP and,on the other, the next nine years were marked with victories when almost every dream of the Party was realised. The march from struggle to victory was truly revolutionary. At that time some critics called BJP a Yatra Party, but it is also a fact that in Party's Vijay Yatra the contribution of Yatras is very significant.
BJP organized three Yatras in its attempt to climb to the top as it began its journey from the bottom. The three Yatras set the wheels of BJPs Vijay Rath into motion. Among these Yatras, the Ram Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya by Shri Lal Krishna Advani in 1990 was the most noticeable. Even today we recall its thrilling moments. The first Yatra of BJP couldn't reach its destination, but this Yatra left an indelible mark in the history of our country, our party and even on the life of Shri Lal Krishna Advani. It cannot be denied that the Ekatmata Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi and then Swarna Jyanti Yatra and Bharat Udaya Yatra by Shri Lal Krishna Advani were of far-reaching consequences to the Vijay Yatra of BJP.
The period between 1998 and 2004 is the third important phase in the history of BJP during which it ruled the country under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In true sense his was the first non-Congress Government and first coalition government to complete its tenure. It has broken the myth spread by Congress that no party other than the Congress could provide a stable government. This government also took certain decisions of far reaching historical significance. One of the most important decisions taken by the BJP government was to conduct nuclear tests on May11, 1998. As a result, the whole world started taking India and its voice in a serious manner. BJP government did its best to foster Indo-Pak friendship. Lahore bus Yatra and the Pakistan tour of Indian Cricket team played an important role in generating healthy Indo-Pak relations. At that time, the Atalji's government did succeed in containing the infiltration in Kargil by Pakistan.
It is true that complete normalization of relations between India and Pakistan could not be achieved during the period, yet history would remember the BJP-led NDA government for its bold initiative in that direction.
BJP took many pioneering initiatives to strengthen India as an economic power. In its tenure it didn't take any new debt and tried its best to repay the previous loans and strengthen the foreign exchange reserves. It initiated the construction of a road network in the country. BJP government has made a great contribution in the field of telecommunication, television and information technology. It increased the minimum support prices of crops for the farmers. It distributed kisan credit cards for crores of farmers. India began all round progress during its tenure. We could not, we regret, expedite the construction of Shriram Temple at Ayodhya, though we did try to find out an amicable solution but we in vain.
Gujarat riot is second regret for us. It proved a dampener to our resolve to turn the India a riot-free nation. The incidents after Godhara tragedy are a black spot for any civilized society. When this accident occurred, we were in the government both at the Centre and in Gujarat. The third matter of concern is the internal situation in the party. The shortcomings in the golden history of 25 years are but natural. In retrospect I also recall some not so good memories. The Party thought to be a tiny one at the time of its formation has reached a position where it can't be ignored in the history of Indian polity today. All this could be possible only because of the struggle relentless waged by our workers. We salute all of them on the occasion of Rajat Jayanti Year.
(Pramod Mahajan is a General Secretary of Bharatiya Janata Party. This article first appeared in a Marathi daily and appears here courtesy, BJP Today. where its English translation was first published under the title, A smart salute to our Karyakartas)
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