“Politics is a tool to bring changes in the society” — Nitin Gadkari
Nitin Gadkari (52), the newly appointed president of Bharatiya Janata Party, believes his different style of politics will bring around a change in the society, which could translate into electoral dividend for the BJP. The former Maharashtra BJP chief, whose elevation to the national status of the party is a surprise to many within the BJP and outside, would like to be remembered as a person who uses politics as a tool for social change and not just for government formation. In an exclusive interview to Uday India correspondent Nupur Priyadarshini, BJP president Nitin Gadkari spoke at length about his vision, his ideas to bring about the change, his priorities and the ways to execute it. Excerpts:
You have been talking about a different kind of politics, what is it?
I am fortunate that I have got an opportunity to serve the people. I have always believed that politics is a tool to bring about change in the society and it has to be more than the government formation exercise. Governments come and go, you may lose or win an election, but significant is the change you bring in the society. I feel there is something beyond electoral politics. My idea is to involve each BJP worker in this process of bringing change in the society. I have told them (party workers) to start an exercise of development work or service in every assembly constituency. If we are able to execute these programmes at grassroots level with sincerity, I am sure we will be able to bring about a change. This will be a change in the lifestyle and living condition of the man deprived of basic amenities. My style of politics is to bring such a change in the society.
Being a political party, how is the BJP going to be benefited by your efforts?
After giving a serious thought, I have come to a conclusion that the basic gap between the vote base of the Congress and the BJP is just 10 per cent. The worries for the BJP is that the Congress has succeeded in spreading the canard among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minorities that the BJP is a communal and caste-based party. This is totally false. For most of the time since Independence, there has been a Congress government at the centre, still minority community remains as backward as they were then. We need to counter the false propaganda of the Congress by establishing direct contacts with these communities. We in the BJP will endeavour to reach out to these sections of the society through our programme. We are not expecting that change in the minds of these people will take place overnight. We will have to work continuously. Once these people realise there is no difference between our words and our action, they will come to us.
But your style of politics did not work in Maharashtra and the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was defeated twice in the assembly election.
I have already said that forming the government in one state or the other should not be the only task before us. As far as defeat in Maharashtra is concerned, there were different reasons behind that. Even then we managed to win eight out of total 12 seats of Nagpur constituency in the just completed elections. Most of my development activity is centred in and around Nagpur. We have adopted 500 families of the famers of Vidarbha region who committed suicide after failing to return the loan. I have my own industry, which produces bio-diesel, ethanol and other products and more than 5000 people are employed in that industry. If a small worker like me is able to bring about such a change, why can’t others? Only thing is that people will have to perform.
You have talked about performance audit for BJP leaders. What is that?
I have said that leaders who will occupy offices in my team will get freedom to work, but there has to be some kind of a review to see if their work is satisfactory or not. If financial audit of a project is not done, it would not do much damage to the system. But there has be the performance audit of an individual. I have prepared a mechanism for the same and decided that each office-bearer will have to tour across the nation for at least 10 days in a month. Those who can do this are welcome otherwise they can look for some other assignment. I would disclose more details about this mechanism in the days to come. We will be shifting our party headquarters to a new building and I would see to it that all office-bearers are available at the party headquarters if they are in New Delhi.
But the party seems to be in a dire strait. Organisational structure in states like UP is in shambles. How would you revive the outfit?
When the issue of some dispute in the Rajasthan unit of the party came before us, I asked party seniors to cancel all their appointments and sit with me. I wanted to solve that issue and the matter was sorted out within a few hours. There was some confusion between the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal over electricity bills in Punjab, I saw to it that the matter does not linger and a solution is found out amicably. The point that I want to make here is that there will be proactive approach and with the support of other leaders I we will be able to handle any situation. As far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned, I am planning to visit the state a couple of weeks from now. I will take a first-hand account of what is wrong with the party in that state and will do what is required.
Why did you decide that all leaders attending the BJP national council meeting in Indore would stay in tents?
There were, you can say, two reasons behind this decision. First, hotels were not available to house 4000 members of the national executive, as February is the wedding season. Secondly, I wanted that there is more interaction between the ordinary party worker and the top leadership of the BJP, which is the source of inspiration for them.
Tell us something about those who are going to be the part of your team?
You will come to know when we decide on this.