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The best of Bhavan's Journal: 1954 - 2003
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National Survival
A. B. Vajpayee
(Published in 1979 Annual number)
The revolution of March 1977 demonstrated the unshakable faith of our people in democracy.
With the establishment of the first non-Congress Government at the Centre, hopes were aroused that a new chapter will unfold in our history. Within 27 months, however, those who had suffered during the Emergency in jail or outside, and who had been voted to power at the crest of unbounded public enthusiasm, squandered this opportunity for petty, personal and factional reasons.
In retrospect, the responsibility for this state of affairs must be shared, in differing degrees, by all groups and their leaders in the Janata Party. Group loyalties and personal ambition marked the very first steps of the infant party. An active and imaginative leadership would have created an infrastructure for the party all over the country by convening State and district level conferences, by holding workers’ camps at divisional level, and by drawing towards it a large number of intellectuals, trade union leaders, youth leaders, and women’s organisations who had worked for the restoration of democracy and the victory of the Janata Party.
But with the Party President immersed in the distribution of State Assembly tickets, and, along with the general secretaries engaged in handling innumerable internecine quarrels, all these steps so crucial to the consolidation for the party were altogether neglected.
The performance of the Janata Governments, both at the Centre as well as in the States, was better than that of the earlier Congress regime. But it fell short of public expectations. Factional quarrels within the party and public airing of grievances, even by ministers, vitiated the atmosphere and sullied the image of the Janata Party and prevented proper projection of the achievements of the governments. Indiscipline in the party was in fact pervasive. It was connived at by senior leaders, and such disapproval as was expressed from time to time was purely verbal and for the record.
The Big-4, particularly the then PM, had it in their power to rise above the petty considerations of the factions, to enforce discipline in the party, and to ensure stability in the States and an effective government at the Centre. Such direction, alas, was never forthcoming.
The Indian polity cannot survive unless it is rooted in certain ideals. Among these are commitment to democracy, secularism, the equal participation of all communities and religions in national life, the upliftment of Harijans, Adivasis and the millions of the desperately poor. The country must develop on modern, scientific lines, ensuring at the same time social and distributive justice.
Today we face a crisis of a magnitude which nations face only once in several centuries. The pursuit of personal ambition, factional interest and self-aggrandizement, so blatantly displayed by some politicians recently has not only made politicians, as a class, the object of ridicule but also undermined faith in our political system. Let all politicians search their souls, acknowledge their failings and mend their ways. What is now at stake is not the fortune of a handful of individuals or parties. At stake is the survival of our nation.
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