SPEECHES

Address by Shri L.K. Advani at the first meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party

New Delhi | Sunday, 31 May 2009

Respected Shri Rajnath Singhji, and my esteemed colleagues in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,

A warm welcome to all of you.

Friends, we have gathered here on the eve of the first session of the newly elected 15th Lok Sabha. It is exactly 15 days ago that the results of the elections came out. Today's meeting has been convened for a specific agenda. That agenda has been accomplished.

I thank my colleagues in Parliament for electing me Leader of the Parliamentary Party. I shall fulfill the responsibilities to the best of my abilities.

In the election just ended the electorate has given its mandate in favour of the Congress and the UPA. The UPA has formed the government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh.

I take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress president Smt. Sonia Gandhi for the success of their party and their alliance.

Naturally, we in the BJP are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the elections, I cannot deny that the expectations in our party as also in our support base were much higher than what we have actually achieved. But we accept the people’s verdict with humility.

Verdict has placed a heavy responsibility on us

I want to assure you — and also assure the entire army of dedicated party workers and the vast community of party supporters — that the leadership of the BJP has begun the exercise of introspection, analysis and corrective action with the seriousness that it deserves. It will be a thoroughgoing exercise. No factor will be overlooked.

We have to find out why our performance was poor in states like Rajasthan, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Orissa. We also have to find out why we won less than the expected number of seats in states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

No less important, we have to chalk out a plan to expand our support base in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal in the coming five years.

United we were, united we shall remain

True, we cannot downplay the setback we have suffered or the causes that led to it. At the same time, let me stress that the BJP is the not the kind of party that, in the aftermath of an electoral setback, indulges in self-flagellation or backbiting or, much less, allows fissures to appear in the party.

United we are in struggle. And united we remain, whatever the outcome of the struggle. The very nature of democracy is such that victory and defeat are a part of the game.

Let me underscore another important aspect of the electoral verdict. Sometimes, in the hour of defeat, we tend to exaggerate the scale of the defeat. Just as the nature of the defeat should not be downplayed, it should not be exaggerated either.

Bipolarity has been crystallised

I have often said that a major contribution made by our party to Indian politics has been our success in smashing the four decade long hegemony of the Congress party, and making India's polity bipolar.

This bipolarity in the Indian polity has been endorsed by the electorate in 2009. This has opened up new opportunities for the BJP. The Left parties have been marginalized in the 15th Lok Sabha. As a result, the people have assigned almost the entire opposition space in Parliament to the BJP and its allies in the NDA. We must, and we shall, make full use of this opportunity.

UPA govt must discharge its duty

Friends, today the BJP Parliamentary Party wishes to send a message to the Congress, the main ruling party. We have congratulated you on your success. But we do hope that you correctly assess the meaning of the people’s verdict, and not mistake it as a resounding endorsement of your government’s performance in the last five years.

The essential element in the people’s verdict is that they have given a mandate for stability, and bipolarity. It is also a mandate against the Third Front. When the Third Front got squeezed, the advantage went to the Congress, since the BJP was not a force to reckon with in several states like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which between them have as many as 143 Lok Sabha seats.

Just as the BJP will play the role of a constructive opposition, as is expected by the people, we hope that the UPA government will play the role of a responsible government, with adherence to the canons of Good Governance, as is expected by the people.

Five guiding principles for the BJP as a constructive opposition party

By constructive opposition, I mean that in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the approach and conduct of the BJP MPs will be guided by the following five principles:

As a party that believes in the ‘Nation First’ philosophy, the BJP will always support the government whenever national interests and people’s welfare so demand.

The same ‘Nation First’ philosophy enjoins upon the BJP to be uncompromising and unremitting in its opposition to the government, whenever the government fails to uphold the nation’s interests and/or neglects people’s welfare.

BJP MPs will watch every policy, every programme and every action of the government. We will make fullest use of every legitimate parliamentary device to keep the government on its toes.

In addition to their constituency-specific issues, BJP MPs will forcefully take up, both individually and collectively, issues that are relevant to their respective states.

Since the BJP is unrepresented in several states in the 15th Lok Sabha, an added responsibility has been placed on our MPs to voice in Parliament the issues relating to such states.

Friends with 116 MPs in the Lok Sabha, with 47 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, with governments in eight states, and with enormous goodwill among the people of India, the BJP continues to be a formidable force in Indian politics.

Today, on the occasion of the first meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party, let us pledge to do everything necessary to start a new journey in the service of our great nation and our great people. We shall certainly win the people’s trust and support again. But right now, our reward lies in discharging our daily duty — patiently, with a positive approach, and with redoubled dedication to the basic goals and ideals of our great party — all aimed at making the present century India's century.

Thank you.

Vande Mataram.