Bharatiya Janata Party president K Jana Krishnamurthy had hardly a word to spare in his inaugural address at the BJP national executive meeting for the carnage in Gujarat that followed the massacre at Godhra.
The BJP's brains trust is meeting in the wake of high-pitched demands for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's resignation, the drubbing the party has received in the recent assembly elections, and the adverse impact of the National Democratic Alliance government's economic policies on the BJP's voters.
Krishnamurthy made it clear again that the party is solidly behind Modi. He dismissed the riots in Gujarat by describing them merely as "the present difficult situation".
"I strongly condemn the hue and cry of those who demand the head of the chief minister of Gujarat," he said. "The nation needs to be saved from these forces whose only aim seems to be to destabilise the BJP government even when the situation demands the cooperation of everyone to restore normalcy in a riot-torn state."
He did mention the Godhra killings, however. "The gruesome burning of innocent women and children in a train at Godhra, the suicide attack on devotees at the Raghunath temple in Jammu, and several other recent incidents of mayhem perpetrated by ISI-sponsored terrorists are a clear message that there will be no let up in cross-border terrorism," he said.
Referring to the communal divide in Gujarat, he echoed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's stand at its convention in Bangalore when he said, "Every section of society (read Muslims) when it thinks that it is the whole of the part must realise that it is simply a part of the whole, so much so its welfare and well-being depends upon those of the entire society."
He defended the mobs that ran amuck in Gujarat by saying they were "provoked". "In any communal strife," he held, "there is always one who provokes and another who gets provoked. The effort has so far mainly remained in advising and attacking the provoked. This has given rise to a psychology amidst the provoked that it is the victim in every sense."
Krishnamurthy spent more time on the NDA's economic policy and its impact on the people. "There is an impression that some of our Budget proposals have also contributed to our setbacks," he said.
Referring to the second-generation reforms being implemented by the government, he said the crucial question "is how much the party would be able to convince those sections of society which are affected by the economic measures. The phases and sequencing of economic reforms should also keep in mind our capacity to manage [the reforms] politically."
In a veiled message to Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, he said, "A healthy balance could be struck between the economic rationale for reforms and the capacity of the party for political management."
Though supporters of liberalisation are celebrating the cut in interest rates, Krishnamurthy had a different opinion. "Whatever the economic justification," he said, "many retired persons have suddenly been made to look around for support due to the fall in their income through interest on savings. It is purely a humanitarian issue. Where should they go?"
He said the government should introduce social security measures for the people. For poor families he suggested food coupons and flexibility in distribution. He also referred to the problems faced by the textile industry and suggested that a committee be appointed to study the impact of liberalisation. The government must find out if the reforms are achieving their purpose, he said.
Referring to the party's debacle in the assembly elections, he said, "Our hopes have been belied." He admitted that the vote was against the BJP. In Punjab, he said, "we got the worst beating." He reminded party leaders and workers of 1984 when "in the Lok Sabha election we managed to secure only two seats -- one from Andhra and another from Gujarat. History is witness how we retrieved the party and today we are the biggest political force."
"The recently held elections are a temporary phenomenon which will get rectified in the following months," he reassured the cadre, adding, "The route of escapism can never be the choice of strong-willed workers. Let us not run away from the harsh realities of our political life. And let us also not wish away our reverses."
Expectedly, he criticised the Congress for its "unhealthy" attitude, saying the party had crossed all limits in criticizing the government.
Krishnamurthy, who is believed to be at loggerheads with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on many issues, had a word of praise for him: "Adherence to the common agenda and full faith in the leadership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee are twin factors in the successful functioning of the NDA," he said. "The twin factors can remain the inseparable bond that binds all our allies together."
He also asked the party to prepare for newer challenges because after Goa and Jammu & Kashmir this year, 10 other states, including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, are likely to go to the polls in 2003. "We may have lost a metre, but we are here to win a kilometre. We may have lost the day. We are sure to win the year," he told them.
Modi gives in, submits his resignation
BJP national executive rejects Modi's resignation
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report