When a handful of salt shook an Empire!

Published By : Admin | March 12, 2019 | 07:24 IST

Today, 89 years ago, Bapu embarked on the iconic Dandi March. Though aimed at protesting unfair Salt Laws, Dandi March shook the foundations of colonial rule and became a strong symbol of fighting injustice and inequality.

 

Did you know who had a key role in the planning of the Dandi March?

The great Sardar Patel.

The organisational man that he was, Sardar Patel planned every minute aspect of the Dandi March, down to the last detail. And, the British were so scared of Sardar Sahib that they arrested him a few days before the launch of Dandi March hoping it would scare Gandhi Ji. However, none of that happened. The larger cause of fighting colonialism prevailed over everything else!

Last month I was in Dandi, at the exact spot where Bapu lifted a handful of salt. A state-of-the-art museum has also come up there, which I urge you all to go see.

Gandhi Ji taught us to think of the plight of the poorest person we have seen and think about how our work impacts that person. I am proud to say that in all aspects of our Government’s work, the guiding consideration is to see how it will alleviate poverty and bring prosperity.

Sadly, the anti-thesis of Gandhian thought is the Congress culture.

Bapu said, “...through realisation of freedom of India I hope to realise and carry on the mission of brotherhood of man.” In many of his works, Gandhi Ji said that he does not believe in inequality and caste divisions. Sadly, the Congress has never hesitated from dividing society. The worst caste riots and anti-Dalit massacres happened under Congress rule.

Bapu said in 1947, “It is the duty of all leading men, whatever their persuasion or party, to safeguard the dignity of India. That dignity can’t be saved if misgovernment and corruption flourish. Misgovernment and corruption always go together.” We have done everything to punish the corrupt. But, the nation has seen how Congress and corruption have become synonyms. Name the sector and there will be a Congress scam- from defence, telecom, irrigation, sporting events to agriculture, rural development and more.

Bapu spoke about detachment and staying away from excess wealth. However, all that Congress has done is to fill their own bank accounts and lead luxurious lifestyles at the cost of providing basic necessities to the poor.

While interacting with a group of women workers, Bapu said, “I have been receiving complaints that some so called eminent leaders of India are making money through their sons, that nepotism is on the increase as also is corruption and that I should do something about it. If it is true all one can say is that we have reached the limit of our misfortune.” Bapu despised dynastic politics but the ‘Dynasty First’ is the way for the Congress today.

A firm believer in democracy, Bapu said, “I understand democracy as something that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.” Ironically, the Congress gave the nation the Emergency, when our democratic spirit was trampled over. The Congress misused Article 356 several times. If they did not like a leader, that Government was dismissed. Always eager to promote dynastic culture, Congress has no regard for democratic values.

Gandhi Ji had understood the Congress culture very well, which is why he wanted the Congress disbanded, especially after 1947.

He lamented, “I am sorry to have to say that many Congressmen have looked upon this item (Swaraj) as a mere political necessity and not as something indispensable.” He also added that Congress leaders are only busy making communal adjustments. In 1937 itself he said, “I would go to the length of giving the whole congress a decent burial, rather than put up with the corruption that is rampant.”

Thankfully, today we have a Government at the Centre that is working on Bapu’s path and a Jan Shakti that is fulfilling his dream of freeing India from the Congress Culture!

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Today, India’s former Vice President and respected statesman Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu Garu turns 75. I wish him a long and healthy life and also extend my greetings to all his well-wishers and supporters. This is an occasion to celebrate a leader whose life journey showcases dedication, adaptability and an unwavering commitment to public service. From his early days in the political arena to his tenure as Vice President, Venkaiah Garu’s career exemplifies his unique ability to navigate the complexities of Indian politics with ease and humility. His eloquence, wit and steadfast focus on developmental issues have earned him respect across party lines.

Venkaiah Garu and I have been associated with each other for decades. We have worked together and I have also learnt a lot from him. If there is one thing that has remained common in his life, it is the love for people. His brush with activism and politics began in Andhra Pradesh with student politics as a student leader. Considering his talent, oratory and organisational skills, he would have been welcomed in any political party but he preferred to work with the Sangh Parivar because he was inspired by the vision of Nation First. He was associated with the RSS, ABVP and then strengthened the Jana Sangh and the BJP.

When the Emergency was imposed almost 50 years ago, young Venkaiah Garu immersed himself in the anti-Emergency movement. He was imprisoned and that too for inviting Loknayak JP to Andhra Pradesh. This commitment to democracy would be seen time and again in his political career. In the mid-1980s, when the great NTR’s Government was unceremoniously dismissed by the Congress, he was again at the forefront of the movement to protect democratic principles.

Venkaiah Garu has always been comfortable swimming even against the most formidable tides. In 1978, Andhra Pradesh voted for the Congress but he beat the trend and was elected as a young MLA. Five years later, when the NTR Tsunami swept the state, he got elected as a BJP MLA, thus paving the way for the BJP’s growth across the state.

All those who have heard Venkaiah Garu speak will vouch for his oratory skills. He is certainly a wordsmith but he is as much a worksmith. Since his days as a young MLA, he began to be respected for the rigour he put in to legislative affairs and speaking for people of his constituency. No less than a stalwart like NTR noted his talent and even wanted him to join his Party but Venkaiah Garu refused to deviate from his core ideology. He went on to play a big role in strengthening the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, going across the villages and connecting with people from all walks of life. He led the Party on the floor of the Assembly and even became the AP BJP President.

It was in the 1990s that the BJP central leadership took note of Venkaiah Garu’s efforts and thus in 1993 began his stint in national politics when he was appointed the Party’s All India General Secretary. It was truly a remarkable moment for a man, who as a teenager would go around announcing the visits of Atal Ji and Advani Ji, to be working directly with them. As the General Secretary, he was focused on how to bring our Party to power and ensure that the nation get their first ever BJP Prime Minister. After the move to Delhi, there was no looking back and he rose to become the National President of the Party.

In 2000, when Atal Ji was keen to induct Venkaiah Garu in the government as a Minister, Venkaiah Garu instantly conveyed his preference for the Rural Development Ministry. This left everyone including Atal Ji puzzled. After all, here was a leader who was being asked which portfolio he wants and his first choice was Rural Development. But, Venkaiah Garu was clear- he was a Kisan Putra, he had spent his early days in the villages and thus, if there was one area he wished to work, it was rural development. As Minister, he was closely associated with the conception and rolling out of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana.’ Years later, when the NDA Government of 2014 assumed office, he handled the crucial portfolios of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. It was during his tenure that we launched the important Swachh Bharat Mission and important urban development related schemes. Perhaps, he is one of the only leaders to have worked for both rural and urban development for such an extensive period.

When I came to Delhi in 2014, I was an outsider to the national capital, having worked in Gujarat for the previous decade and a half. In such times, Venkaiah Garu’s insights were very handy. He was an effective Parliamentary Affairs Minister - he knew the essence of bipartisanship but at the same time he drew a line when it came to Parliamentary norms and rules.

In 2017, our Alliance nominated him as our Vice-Presidential candidate. We faced a dilemma – we thought about how the big shoes of Venkaiah Garu would be impossible to fill, but at the same time, we also knew there was no better candidate for the Vice Presidency than him. I can never forget one of the speeches he gave when he resigned as Minister and MP. He could not control his tears when he recalled his association with the Party and efforts to build it. It gave a glimpse of his deep-rooted commitment and passion. Upon becoming the Vice President, he undertook various steps that also enhanced the dignity of the office. He was an outstanding Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, ensuring that young MPs, women MPs and first time MPs get the opportunity to speak. He put great emphasis on attendance, making the Committees more effective and also raising the level of debate in the House.

When the decision to remove Articles 370 and 35(A) were placed on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, it was Venkaiah Garu who was on the Chair. I am sure it was such an emotional moment for him- the young boy who was drawn to Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s dream of a united India was on the Chair when this was finally achieved.

Apart from work and politics, Venkaiah Garu is a voracious reader and writer too. For the people in Delhi, he is known as the person who brought the glorious Telugu culture to the city. His Ugadi and Sankranti programmes are clearly among the most cherished gatherings in town. I have always known Venkaiah Garu as someone who loves food and also hosting people. But, off late, his self-control has also been visible to everyone. His commitment to fitness is seen in how he still plays badminton and enjoys his brisk walk.

Even after the Vice Presidency, Venkaiah Garu has led an active public life. On the issues that he is passionate about or on various developments that take place across the nation, he calls me and asks me about it. I met him most recently when our government returned to office for the third term. He was delighted and conveyed his best wishes to me and our team. I wish him once again on this milestone. I hope young Karyakartas, elected representatives and all those who have a passion to serve learn from his life and imbibe those values. It is people like him who make our nation better and more vibrant.