Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday invoked Mahatma Gandhi and said the best way to define good governance was with Gandhiji's talisman. “Do the policies help the poorest and weakest man? If yes, that is good governance.”

He was addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party's inaugural session of the National Convention on Good Governance (Suraj Sankalp) here.

“We need action-based approach like that of Lal Bahadur Shastri or Sardar Patel. Mere talking and symbolic gestures serve no purpose. Has celebrating Children's Day improved the condition of children in this country?”

A copy of his speech was given to the media, as he did not address the convention in front of the press.

“Shun Congress culture”

BJP president Nitin Gadkari urged party members to shun the Congress political culture. “I am pained to hear talks of caste-based hierarchies in our office. Respect should be commanded, not demanded. You don't need to go to Delhi and touch everyone's feet,” he said.

Changing the public perception of the BJP, eliminating the hierarchy-based internal approach and widening the ambit of good governance were the focal points of discussion on the first day of the two-day convention being attended by around 65 delegates from the BJP-ruled States.

Mr. Modi emphasised just and non-discriminatory governance which aimed at the welfare of all. “That is Suraj [good governance]. Pro-active good governance is the need of the hour. Remember, people are willing to pay for quality service.” . His speech was laced with references to thinkers — Kautilya, Lao Tse, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, Robert Putnam, Amartya Sen, Alvin Toffler, Osborne and Gaebler. He said the need of the hour was not downsizing, but rightsizing the government.

“Democratic governance is more important than good governance because it empowers people. We already know about good governance because of concepts like Ram Rajya. The question is how to achieve it” He later elaborated on the initiatives taken by the Gujarat government and their effect.

Media's role

While talking about the role of various institutions in creating open and good governance, he said that the media should not only criticise the mistakes of other institutions but also highlight the successful initiatives for others to learn. “Currently we have procedural accountability and not performance accountability. Unfortunately, this encourages people to be indecisive and to avoid responsibility.”

He lamented that the Right to Information Act was more often used by middlemen and vested interests to harass the administration. “The challenge is to maintain transparency without diluting efficiency of the government,” he said.

While taunting those Ministers who keep lecturing about accountability, he said that they should give clear guidelines to the officials and become aware of the department's potential, rather than concentrating only on the limitations.

Advani may attend

Senior leader Lal Krishna Advani may attend the convention on Sunday. According to the party's governance cell chairman, Manohar Parrikar, the convention is aimed at self-evaluation and preparing a road map for the development of BJP-ruled States.

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