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Good performance despite obstacles - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
July 9, 1998

Title: Good performance despite obstacles
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: July 9, 1998

There seems to be a strong undercurrent among the non-political
citizenry throughout the country that the Vajpayee government is
not being allowed to function by allies like AIADMK and opponents
like Laloo Prasad Yadav, Jyoti Basu and Mulayam Singh. The AIADMK
leader, Jayalalitha, has been delivering shocks to the Vajpayee
government periodically from day one, creating a sense of
uncertainty and instability. Opponents on the other hand
conspired to grab power at the Centre with whatever combination
possible. Leaders like Chandrashekhar, Subramaniam Swamy and a
few of the Congress also contributed to the whole scheme of

I realised this while talking to numerous persons belonging to
various states. In some way or the other, they were echoing
similar impressions. One message was clear: All of them (awes and
opponents) have been working as obstructive forces against the
Vajpayee government from the very beginning. A Congress supporter
>from Chennai was the first to identify this undercurrent to me.
>From then, this impression was confirmed while talking to dozens
of non-political people from various states. The gentleman from
Chennai also told me that he did not know when the general
elections would be held. But whenever it is held, BJP's tally in
Lok Sabha would take a leap from its present 183.

During the last one week there had been more than one occasion
when I got pleasant surprises which in a way confirmed the
perceptions of the gentleman from Chennai. I would not have
believed it had I not seen the phenomenon myself. also told me
that he did not know when the general elections would be. But
whenever it will be held BJP's tally in Lok Sabha would have
quantum jump from its present 183.

For the last one week, there had been more than one occasion when
I got pleasant surprises which in a way confirmed the perceptions
of the gentleman from Chennai. I would not have believed it had I
not seen the phenomenon myself. The occasion was Kushabhau
Thakre's first visit to Lucknow as the president of the BJP.
There was a meeting of BJP leaders of UP. The state BJP
president, Rajnath Singh, had set a target for the organisation
that each village of a state should have a BJP committee.
District presidents were reporting there. Almost all of them
reported that all the mandal samitis of districts have elected
committees and also all the villages have BJP committees, most of
them elected, and a few of them nominated. After reporting, each
district president presented voluminous records of office-bearers
of the committees with their addresses and other details to
Thakreji. UP has 90 districts. Piles of records were there before
Kushabhau Thakre. After the conclusion of the marathon meeting,
Rajnath Singh concluded that out of 71,500 villages, BJP has
committees in all but 1344 villages. There too the committees
would be constituted before July 15, 1998. He also said that as
per his assessment, BJP's voting capacity in state is around 40
per cent and he has a target of 45 per cent.

It was unbelievable for me as I know what it means to have
committees in more than 71,000 villages in UP. To verify this, I
went through the volumes. Some district reports ran into three to
four hundred pages. I could not then disbelieve. The amount of
organisational work done by thousands of workers is really
unbelievable, for it was completed within two months. Emphasis
on organisation-building also makes the BJP a party with a
difference. One can compare it with its opponent.

Take for example its main opponent the Congress. The Congress had
quite a good organisation up to the late 60s. But after that
nomination culture has rendered the organisation redundant In
most parts of the country. In north India it lost its
organisational roots much earlier. Still, hi South India and
Maharashtra, it had a formidable organisation, and it still has
to some extent. After the parting of ways by G K Moopanar and
the formation of TMC, the Congress does not have any organisation
worth the name in Tamil Nadu. The same is true of West Bengal
after the parting the ways by Mamata Banerjee. In the name of
building the organisation, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi is
placing her loyalists at the PCC level, replacing others. This is
a different type of an organisational exercise. In West Bengal
and Kerala, CPM and other Left parties are well-organised. DMK
too Is organised, but it has suffered on this score because of
the split of PDMK. Samajwadi Party and RJD have very peculiar
organisational setups based on caste. In a way they have
enrolled whole castes as members. More than 50 per cent of the
castes' loyalty is functional during elections. The BSP leader,
Kanshi Ram, built the cadre with a missionary zeal. But now it
is not a movement; it is just a political party. In contrast,
BJP's march on the organisational front is a continuous process.
Many state units of the BJP are marching towards the grassroots,
aspiring to reach the last village. Even in West Bengal, it has
reached half of the villages.

The second surprise came when I was sitting with a senior
secretary to the government of India, known for his integrity and
uprightness, and a Supreme Court advocate, D K Sinha. We were
talking about the image of the government. During the talk he
candidly said that till date there was no symptom of political
corruption in this government. This is accepted by most of the
bureaucrats, according to him. It did not surprise me, but I was
surprised by the fact that even bureaucrats have this feeling. By
itself, it is a point which confirm that the BJP is a party with
a difference. I know that a certain association of big
businessmen had an appointment with a cabinet minister one
evening. They got a positive response from the minister. Within
hours, a phone came from a newspaper editor that this group of
businessmen was collecting money from its members as well as
concerned MNCs to give to the minister. The minister was furious.
The next day, the minister confronted the leader of the
delegation which had met. The businessmen concerned could not
deny the fact that the money was being collected. The minister
told the businessmen that they had tarnished the image of the
government without any basis even among MNCs. Needless to say
that this association's delegation or individuals were not
allowed to meet the minister.

Despite all political hurdles, the Vajpayee government has
performed well during last 100 days. Ministry-wise records of
the Vajpayee government may not be extraordinary; nevertheless,
almost all of them proved themselves. The hurdles of the
opponents proved to be just the speed-breaker. The government
showed its courage of conviction through Pokhran-II. That is what
lends credence to the undercurrent that the Vajpayee government
is not being allowed to function smoothly.

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