While maintaining that there would not be any change in the ideology of nationalism and Hindutva, the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari on Thursday asserted that the party stood against discrimination of any citizen on the grounds of caste, creed, religion or language.
“We are against vote bank politics. We believe in justice to all and appeasement to none. What begins as appeasement of minorities later becomes appeasement of terrorists,” he told reporters during the course of his first press conference at the party headquarters here.
Coming to the helm of affairs in the BJP at a time when the Jharkhand assembly results have thrown up a fractured verdict and the party is on the threshold of ushering in a generational change in its leadership, Mr. Gadkari, the youngest BJP chief since 1980, and the first from Maharashtra, appeared keen to reinvent and reorient the party to reach out to the poorer sections of the society, tribals, farmers, scheduled castes and dalits.
Making a plea for judging the party by its actions rather than being caught in the web of “image versus reality”, Mr. Gadkari said the BJP remained committed to genuine secularism which he described as “Sarva Dharma Sama Bhav”, and not to vote-bank secularism.
“The party brooks no distinction or discrimination between citizens of India on the lines of caste, religion, language, region or ethnicity. India belongs to all, and all belong to India. All have equal rights and at the same time, all also have equal responsibility to make India stronger and united,’’ he said in his opening statement.
Vowing to instil a stronger spirit of sacrifice and selfless service to the party and the nation in the party cadres, he said his emphasis would be to turn the party organisation into a disciplined body where mutual trust and respect would be the cornerstones of its functioning.
Discounting suggestions that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has overarching influence on the party organisation, Mr. Gadkari said the RSS did not give any directions as to how to manage the affairs of the party. He admitted the most important factor was to overcome the “crisis of credibility” that had seeped in, not only in political parties, but other spheres of the society as well.
How would he make the BJP an attractive party for the youth? “We have the potential of changing our socio-economic conditions. I firmly believe that politics is the instrument of socio-economic reforms and I have plans to create and enhance the employment potential in the rural areas without taking the government funds. The BJP will remain a party with difference,’’ he replied.
Replying to another query, Mr. Gadkari said he would not oppose good work of the government for the sake of opposing it. Terming BJP as the natural alternative choice for the Congress, he said his efforts would also be directed towards strengthening the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Insisting that he would regularly carry out a “performance audit’’ of the party and its functionaries, he promised to decentralise and distribute power in the party organisation. He stressed that indiscipline would not be tolerated. “Indiscipline is not a subject for discussion but for execution. No indiscipline will be tolerated,’’ he told reporters.
On his future plans, including appointment of office-bearers who would form part of his team, Mr. Gadkari said performance and not proximity would be the criterion for it. He said he would not seek election either to the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha during his term of three years.
He said the party’s ideology and stand relating to key issues such as Article 370 which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Ram temple at Ayodhya and uniform civil code would not be diluted.