The lotus shall bloom

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Special on 44th BJP Foundation day

– Atal Bihari Vajpayee

India must show Moral Strength

In the fast deteriorating international situation, India can play a meaningful role only if it expressed itself clearly and unhesitatingly against any encroachment upon the freedom of nations, any violation of frontiers and any interference in the internal affairs of other peoples. India should show some moral strength even in international realtions.

In search of Excuses

To cover up its dismal failure on all fronts, the Government is resorting to ever new excuses. The first six months were whiled away with the refrain that the train of administration had been derailed and ploughed into earth during the 28 months of the Janata rule and that it would take time to put it back on the rails. The next six months are being passed with the alibi that the Opposition with its disruptionist tactics, is not allowing the Government to function.

Those who raised a hue and cry at some stray incidents of chain-snatching in Delhi during the Janata days are now indulging in legal hair splitting to prove daylight dacoities as mere robberies. Those who hurled stones at me as a protest against delay in the arrest of Billa and Ranga, are now mum over the failure of the police to trace the murderers of Jaisinghani, uncover the mystery of Mrs. Purnima Singh’s death and haul up all the criminals responsible for the murder of the Nirankari Baba.
The incidents of Pipra and Parasbigha in Bihar were no less painful than that of Belchi. But the Prime Minister did not care to go there even in a helicopter whereas she went riding on an elephant to Belchi. She dismissed the UP Government on the issue of Naraipur but she refused to accept the resignation of her own Chief Minister whose Government had failed to prevent the killing of hundreds at Moradabad. Today, she is never tired of blaming the opposition for making political capital out of every incident. But she seems to have conveniently forgotten what she had herself said at Naraipur that, if the Government commits a mistake, why shouldn’t the opposition exploit it.

Kisan Struggle

The present wave of mass agitations in various parts of the country is in fact a spontaneous phenomenon. The Assam agitation against infiltration of foreigners, which is more than a year old now, has surpassed even the independence struggle in point of its sweep and the mass support and cooperation that it enjoys. It is a national endeavour expressive of the determination of the youth force to protect the territorial integrity of India and the identity of Assam. It has nothing to do with political parties or partisan politics.

The movements being run by the Kisans in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh etc. to get their demands accepted, are also not inspired by political parties. Kisans belonging to all parties, including the ruling party, are participating in this fight.

Soaring Prices

In fact, the economic condition of the peasantry has deteriorated over the years. The costs of inputs like fertilizers, irrigation, electricity, diesel, seeds, etc. have gone up, but the income from the produce has not increased proportionately. The soaring prices of non-agricultural goods have also hit them badly because they are consumers also..

Rural Indebtedness

The figures of rural indebtedness are startling. Only a few years ago, the overdue debts amounted to Rs. 750 crore. Now they have risen to 6000 crore. Moreover, 85 percent of the agriculturists are in debt.

The Bharatiya Janata Party considers the farmers’ demand of remunerative prices for agricultural commodities as completely justified and supports it fully.
As long as a proper ratio is not established between the prices of sugarcane and sugar, cotton and cotton textiles, groundnut and vanaspati oil, jute and jute manufactures, etc., the exploitation of producers of raw materials will continue and the manufacturers of industrial goods will go on making exorbitant profits.

Fall in Cotton Prices

The price of cotton cloth has trebled in the last few years, but the price of cotton has gone down. The famous Varlakshmi’ cotton of Andhra which fetched Rs. 1200-1500 per quintal, has now slumped to Rs. 500. The cost of jute production is Rs. 192 per tonne whereas the officially fixed price is only Rs. 150 per tonne.

The Andhra Government had fixed the paddy support price at Rs. 105 per quintal but the farmers had to sell it off at Rs. 75 per quintal for lack of proper purchase arrangements by government agencies. This situation holds good at other places and for other crops as well.

Cost of Agricultural Produce

The Agricultural Prices Commission has failed in its purpose. It should be disbanded and a new body set up in its place to determine the cost of agricultural produce by taking into consideration the prices of industrial goods as well as the soaring cost of living of the Kisans and their needs.

Awakening Among Farmers

The farmer has now risen from centuries of sloth and ignorance to claim his due. He should be given credit for making the country self-sufficient in foodgrains and saving foreign exchange worth billions. The attempt to create a rift in the Kisan movement on the basis of big and small farmers or between the rural producer and the urban consumer will not succeed. The awakening created by the movement in the countryside will also benefit the landless labourers.

Increase Foodgrain Production

The Government should take the farmers into confidence and chalk out a timebound programme to double the foodgrain production. The world is likely to suffer from food shortage for a long time. However, India has the capacity to become a leading exporter in this respect. This potential should be fully utilised.

Assam Movement

Assam is burning. A conflagration has been raging there for the last one year. The people of Assam are becoming strangers in their own State because of large scale infiltration of foreign citizens. This process has been going on for decades. I recall having drawn the Government’s attention to this matter in 1957 after being elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time. I had then warned that the situation would take an explosive turn if no effective remedial steps were taken to prevent such infiltration. But the Government failed to realise the seriousness of the problem.

The magnitude of the foreigners’ problem is not small, as the powers-that-be try to depict it. In 1978, during the Janata rule, in Mangaldoi Lok Sabha constituency alone, 47,600 names of foreigners were detected in the voters’ list. Between 1957 and 1970, there has been an increase of 12 lakh names in the voters’ list of Assam, but between 1970 and 1979, the increase has been to the order of 28 lakh new voters.

Future of Foreigners

Due to the attitude of the Central Government during the last twelve months, the Assam problem has become more complicated. Sometimes the Government tries to give it the colour of Assamese versus non-Assamese and sometimes it resorts to the policy of bringing about a confrontation between the Assamese and the Bengalis. Yet again, it tries to make it a Hindu-Muslim question. But it always refuses to see the foreigners’ problem in the state in its real form.

Assam is a frontier province. It has its geographical importance and from the military point of view it is the gateway of India. Full of scenic charm, it is rich in oil, minerals, vegetation, water and springs. It has a rich cultural heritage. But today’s Assam is poor, disregarded, exploited and cursed. Assamese people blame the Centre for their backwardness. They also complain of callous attitude towards their language and heritage.

To be continued…
(Presidential address of Shri Atal Bihari
Vajpeyee at BJP National Council, Bombay,
28-December, 1980)