Text: Yashwant Sinha's letter to Rajnath Singh
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Date: June 12, 2009
As you are aware, I do not belong to the category of those great leaders who can contest and win elections from anywhere in the country. I have been rooted in one constituency, Hazaribagh, ever since I entered politics.
It is not an easy constituency for me. So as on previous occasions, this time also I had to work very hard to win my seat. Apart from the work that I did in my constituency over the last five years, I spent all of three and a half months since the beginning of January until my election was over on April 16, in my constituency, moving from village to village and persuading people to vote for the party. I am grateful to the voters of Hazaribagh, to my workers and to God Almighty for my win.
My joy at my own victory was, however, short-lived when it became clear that the Party had failed to win the trust of the people of India. The little euphoria which was left also evaporated when I reached Delhi to a cold reception from the leadership here. I had expected that there would be a flurry of activity in Delhi, that the Party office would be abuzz with a series of meetings to review our performance, that the necessary lessons from our defeat would be drawn quickly and remedial steps initiated without loss of time. I was surprised, therefore, when I noticed that nothing of the kind was happening. It was business as usual.
It will be obvious even to a casual observer that this election has thrown up a number of issues which we can ignore only at our peril. These relate to our basic tenets, our policies and programmes, the issues that we raised during elections, the language in which we expressed them, the strategy that we worked our for the elections, the manner in which that strategy was implemented, the campaign style of our leaders, and finally, the faces that we projected.
The media has been quick to draw its own conclusions about our defeat. Many of them are superficial and unsupported by empirical evidence. But some facts stand out.
We have never won a seat in Kerala. We have been wiped out in some marginal States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and most of the North-East. We have drawn a blank in Orissa, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. We have done poorly in Rajasthan, Punjab, Maharashtra and UP. In Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh our performance is below our expectation.
The only States where our performance has been satisfactory are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Karnataka. What are the reasons for this wide variation?
Similarly, one would like to understand the voting behaviour of the minorities, the first-time voters, women, scheduled castes and tribes, the urban middle class, the government employees and most importantly, the farmers and the industrial workers in this election. Which is the vote bank we have lost? Which is the vote bank we have gained? And finally, an analysis of the factors which helped the Congress Party increase its tally from 145 seats in the last election to 206 in this.
I am sure a detailed review would be instructive and show us the path for the future. At the same time it would also help us establish the principle of accountability in the Party. We failed to carry out a review after our defeat in the last election. I am getting a sinking feeling that once again there is a conspiracy of silence.
We are shying away from pin-pointing our weaknesses and fixing responsibility. We are hoping that time shall heal our wounds. Thus, while one of the one hand, the Party is avoiding a systematic appraisal of its performance, on the other, those who were responsible for the management of the campaign have already made their views public through interviews and articles in the media, drawn their conclusions, apportioned blame and given themselves a clean chit.
Those of us who actually toiled in the field and took all the risk have not even been heard. Advaniji set a fine example of accountability by declining to take up the position of the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. It was an eminently appropriate and dignified decision. He was persuaded to continue. So have the others who wanted to take responsibility and resign, it appears as if some people in the party are determined to ensure that the principle of accountability does not prevail so that their own little perch is not disturbed.
Separately, in our anxiety to distribute amongst the few higher mortals in the party whatever goodies were available, we completely disregarded the parliamentary party constitution in the election of the office-bearers of the parliamentary party on May 31.
It is difficult to avoid the impression that in the BJP we put a premium on failure. Our reluctance to introspect and introspect comprehensively and openly is unacceptable to a large number of people within the party. So is the rat race for posts.
If we are a party with a difference, let us set an example in abnegation. If the responsibility is collective, as I have often heard you say, then all of us should jointly share the responsibility for our defeat. Let the party implement its own Kamraj Plan under which all office bearers of the party and the parliamentary party should resign from their posts which should then be filled up through the process of election laid down by our constitution. In order to facilitate this and to establish the principle of collective responsibility, I am making a beginning by submitting my resignation from the post of Vice-President of the party, from the membership of the National Executive of the party and from all positions of responsibility in the party at the national and state level. I shall continue to serve the party as an ordinary worker of the party and as its member in Lok Sabha from Hazaribagh.
In the meanwhile, I hope you will give due consideration to the issues I have raised in this letter. I am endorsing a copy of this letter to all members of the Core Group of the party.