Old Karyakartas of the Jan Sangh time till 1990 in Assam were felicitated at a function in Guwahati. Over 300 old Karyakartas attended the event
In a way it is a departure from the usual practice. It is an event hosted by the BJP to felicitate old party workers. It is well known that both Jana Sangh and the BJP, have been Karyakarta-centric parties, not leader-centric. But the idea of a Karyakarta is different in our party. Hence the suggestion of felicitating a Karyakarta sounds a bit strange. Because the very training of Karyakartas in our party is that they shouldn’t be attracted by fame, popularity, felicitation, garlands etc.
‘Prasiddhi Parangmukhta’, no interest in fame and popularity—is considered in our party as an important quality of a good Karyakarta. There are three major attractions for Karyakartas in public life—manch (dais), mike and media. In our training programs it is drilled into the minds of Karyakartas that they should beware of these three attractions.
A question arises as to why then in such a party this decision was taken to felicitate Karyakartas? I wish to give you two reasons for this. First, is that these Karyakartas deserve this felicitation essentially because they have lived their life precisely in that manner. When they were working as Karyakartas they never allowed even the thought of any felicitation and honour cross their mind, hence they deserve the felicitation.
We need such Karyakartas only. In the Karyakarta training programs Atalji used to mention about a poem:
‘Chalte Chalte Raah Bangaye, Jalte Jalte Thah Bangaye Bhakt Swayam Bhagwan Bangaye’ —meaning ‘By walking continuously you will become the path yourself, by burning relentlessly you will become the sacred fire yourself, By praying uninterruptedly the devotee in you will become the God himself’.
This is our concept of Karyakarta. Karyakarta doesn’t mean a volunteer here. All parties have volunteers. It is jocularly said: ‘Na Ma ka dar, na baap ka dar, beta bangaya volunteer’—Neither the fear of mother nor of father, the son became a volunteer’. In our party that is not the case. Karyakarta is an important institution here. It is a state of mind.
That is why the BJP and the Jan Sangh used to be described as ‘party with a difference’. We should be careful with these English phrases. It is ‘party with a difference’, not ‘Party with differences’.
We are a party with unique political culture. When Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee thought of launching a new political party it brought him to the then Chief of RSS Sh M S Golwalkar. Was there any dearth of political parties in the country? There were many parties then. Shyama Prasad himself had worked in the Congress and Hindu Mahasabha. Then why did he want to start another political party?
The idea at that time was that we needed to establish a new political culture in the post-independence India, where there won’t be any place for corruption, selfishness, nepotism, hunger for power, arrogance of power. It was with this objective that the Jan Sangh came into being. It sounds crazy to entertain such ideas in the present day politics. Not to have attraction to power, not to hold any self-interest, not even to enjoy power—then after all why should one enter politics? One should be crazy to hold such ideas! That is how people think of us.
Mahatma Gandhi used to talk about seven sins in public life. The last and most important sin, according to him, was ‘politics without principles’. The emergence of Jan Sangh was to erase that sin and bring in politics of principles and idealism.
People call us mad, different and isolated. We are okay to be different and isolated. It will be a majestic isolation. Like the Mount Everest in Himalayas we are fine to be isolated—it is Himalayan isolation. We have to maintain this uniqueness. Otherwise there is no relevance for the existence of the BJP or Jan Sangh. That is why when we felicitate our old Karyakartas we should all experience this uniqueness that we are here to establish a new political culture in this country. In fact that is why we felicitate our old Karyakartas so that they can be our lamp posts.
But friends, there is another reason too. I wish to place it before you in a symbolic form. Earthen lamp with burning flame—Deep—was the symbol of Bharatiya Jan Sangh. I too come from a family of those Jan Sangh Karyakartas who worked relentlessly to build the party at a time when there was nobody around. We opted for the lamp with burning flame as the symbol at that time because the challenge was to build the party from scratch. The Karyakartas that we are honouring today belong to that group. They had no other option but to sacrifice themselves in the pursuit of establishing a new political culture.
Due to their hard work and sacrifice the party got established well in the country. For some political reasons, we had to abandon the Jan Sangh identity and acquire the new identity of the BJP. In BJP, we didn’t opt for the lamp as the symbol; we opted for a flowering lotus. There is a significance. By the time, BJP was established there were already Karyakartas spread across the country committed to bringing in a new political culture. The BJP was established as a strong nationwide political party. But the challenge was to rise as a clean political party in the midst of a highly polluted political climate. That is why we opted for lotus as our symbol, because the lotus blooms in the mud and dirt, yet remains fresh and uncontaminated.
Today, we are in the midst of a polluted politics. We are a big and powerful party. But the challenge today is to remain like a lotus. Today’s challenge is not about burning out like a flame, but blooming clean like a lotus. Our uniqueness needs to be preserved and protected. When we remember our old Karyakartas, learn from their lives and recollect their sacrifices then we will regain motivation to uphold those values in public life.
But I also wish to make an appeal with folded hands to all the senior Karyakartas present here. The politics today is much more difficult for our Karyakartas than what it used to be when your were the Karyakartas. Those were the times when there were no expectations because nothing was going to come our way. That is not the case today. Thanks to Modiji’s popularity we don’t even have to work too hard; yet we get so much by way of results including political power. People are solidly with us. In politics, when you get everything, it is really challenging to emulate the lives of our old Karyakartas.
You may sometimes feel that today’s Karyakartas are not like you; they are spoilt. But please remember that today’s Karyakartas work in a most difficult atmosphere. Today’s political climate is greatly different from the climate of 70s and 80s when you were Karyakartas. Our Karyakartas are struggling to keep up that idealism in such a difficult situation. I appeal to all the elderly Karyakartas to maintain positive attitude and sympathy for the Karyakartas of today.
We have to author a new political history in this country. Three years of Modi ji’s government testify to the fact that our effort is to create a new
societal culture in the country, not just a new political culture. We need to build a country that is guided by idealism. That is the mission of our Prime Minister.
(Text of BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav’s speech at the old Karyakarta sammelan)