M A I N   N E W S

BJP skips Hindutva, targets Sonia
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 23
Taking strong exception to the misinterpretation of the people’s mandate, the BJP today accused the Congress of trying to blemish the system of governance by creating two power centres, criminalising governance at the Centre and soft-pedalling on the issues of terrorism and infiltration.

“Far from contributing to the fight against the menace of criminalisation of politics, the Congress has blemished the Indian Republic by criminalising governance at the Centre,” maintained the political resolution adopted at the BJP National Executive meeting here.

(Notwithstanding the demand of the members exhorting the party to get back to aggressive Hindutva, the resolution skipped core Hindutva issues like Ram Janmabhoomi, the abrogation of Article 370 and the Uniform Civil Code, according to PTI.)

The resolution, moved by former Union Minister and BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley, was adopted unanimously after a two-hour debate during which about 40 party leaders made interventions and suggested minor amendments.

In a direct attack on the Congress President, the resolution said, “The Congress has also blemished the system of governance by creating two power centres, in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh plays second fiddle to ‘Super Prime Minister’ Sonia Gandhi.”

Accusing the Congress and its allies of “systematically” diluting the “dignity and honour” of the office of the Prime Minister, it said, “For the first time in our country’s history, we do not have an elected Prime Minister but a selected Prime Minister, bereft of real authority.”

“The BJP wishes to alert the entire political class in this country that the belittling of the high office of the Prime Minister, and the emergence of an extra-constitutional power centre in the person of the Congress President, and the new phase of the Congress’ craven surrender, yet again, to dynasticism are ominous developments in our democracy,” the resolution said.

Condemning the UPA government’s move to repeal POTA and the description of the rise of anti-India jehadi forces in Bangladesh as a “human problem”, the BJP voiced its alarm at the deliberate omission of any mention in the common minimum programme of either the menace of cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and in other parts of the country, or the danger of large-scale infiltration from Bangladesh.

The BJP demanded that Parliament should pass an effective law for barring persons who were chargesheeted in cases of heinous crimes from contesting elections and holding offices in public life, immediate introduction of the Bill for women’s reservation in Parliament and state legislatures and repeal of the IMDT Act in Assam.

It said the National Executive resolved to launch a nationwide mass awareness campaign about the Congress-led government’s induction of “tainted persons” into the Cabinet and soft-pedalling on the issue of terrorism and infiltration.

“The BJP will act as a watchdog of national security,” it said. Calling upon the party cadres to resolve to energise themselves to meet both immediate and long- term challenges, it directed the party units at all levels to focus on rededication to ideology and idealism, redouble commitment to development issues, especially concerning farmers, the rural poor, unorganised urban poor, unemployed youths and women.

It underlined the need for energising the party by overcoming organisational shortcomings, particularly in the states facing the next round of Assembly elections.

The party has also to steadily expand its appeal in new geographical areas and social sections like SCs, STs and backward classes and “vigorously expose the contradictions, compromises, compulsions and failures of the Congress-led government at the Centre.”


Vajpayee, Advani disappoint hardliners
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 23
If the cadres of the Bharatiya Janata Party were looking for an endorsement of the Hindutva agenda from their top leaders former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his old deputy Lal Krishna Advani thoroughly disappointed them on Wednesday evening.

Hundreds of party workers who had gathered at the Shanmukhananda Hall in Central Mumbai were in for tepid speeches from the two leaders who safely dwelt on a harmonious past when the Hindu right-wing organizations struggled in the wings. There was little by way of promise — just a reiteration of ideology and a fervent hope that the month-old United Progressive Alliance government will collapse under the weight of its contradictions.

It was left for party president Venkaiah Naidu to keep the saffron standard flying with his trademark wordplay on Saraswati Vandana versus Sonia Vandana and Hindutva as Indianness. Even the party’s leader in the Maharashtra Assembly, former Deputy Chief Minister Gopinath Munde, safely stuck to a political tirade against the ruling government in Maharashtra and promised to revive POTA if the BJP was voted back to power.

The show organised amidst reports of a split among moderates and hardliners gamely tried to paper over the cracks in the party. Vajpayee and Advani, under attack from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for diluting the BJP’s core Hindutva ideology, were however lustily cheered by party workers.

Unlike just two months ago, even cheers of Jai Sri Ram did not enthuse Advani to make an appeal to the hardline Hindutva elements who lapsed into silence. “We had plans to bring power to all Indian villages and improve all of the country’s roads by the year 2020 but we did not get the chance,” remarked a sullen Advani referring to the recurring theme of his Bharat Uday Yatra.

The meet also indicated that Vajpayee’s attempts to present a moderate face by calling for the removal of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi still rankles with the cadres. As the former Prime Minister rose to speak, stray voices cheered Modi, who was not even present on the occasion.

The former Prime Minister indicated that he still basks in his success of leading a 27-party coalition at the Centre. “There was love, affection and a concern for the national interest among us,” Vajpayee said. He wondered though if his successors would be as successful.

As the cadres hoped for at least one line to show the party’s tallest rebel has recanted for hitting out at Modi, Vajpayee abruptly thanked the author of a book on him and sat down.


BJP failed to focus on its ‘parivar’: Advani
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 23
Senior BJP leader and former Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani today made a candid admission that the party’s poor showing in the recent Lok Sabha elections was due to the failure of the party to focus on its own core ideological constituency and the inability of many sitting MPs to nurse their constituencies well.

“We should have balanced our focus on governance and development with an equally sustained political focus on our core constituency through constant dialogue at various levels. Somehow, our political strategy and conduct during the six years were not oriented to strengthening and enthusing our ‘karyakartas’, our ideological ‘‘parivar’’ or our social support base,” Mr Advani stressed, speaking on the second day of the National Executive meeting here.

“We were somewhat confused as to how to relate to our own ideological family and individually and collectively we did not pay as much attention to our core supporters as we should have,” Mr Advani observed in the presence of top party leaders from all over the country, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Stating that “we have reached where we have reached” because of the dedicated efforts of lakhs of workers and well-wishers of “our ideological ‘parivar’”, he conceded that “indeed there was a sense of alienation in our ‘parivar’ and a weakening of the emotional bond with our core constituency”.

However, the number two leader of the party insisted that “this does not mean that the BJP should not or cannot look beyond our core constituency.”

“As a political party that has a national outlook, we are duty-bound to care for one and all,” he said, adding that “our ideology does not bar us from expanding our care and concern, because it is not a narrow and exclusive ideology.”

Ironically, while the BJP’s opponents and the world recognised the Vajpayee-led government as a “Hindutva government”, the only two entities that did not so recognise this government were “our own ideological ‘parivar’ and ourselves”, he noted.

He also came down heavily on those sitting MPs who lost in the recent elections.

“Fifty per cent of our sitting MPs lost the elections. This shows mostly that they were remiss in their work.” He said there may have been other reasons also for their defeat but, lately, lack of proper political conduct of MPs and MLAs was emerging as a major factor causing failure in the elections.

“Many of these MPs did not nurse their constituencies well. They did not perhaps conduct themselves properly with different sections of the people in their constituencies. Equally important, they did not perhaps work in proper coordination with the local party units and ‘karyakartas.’”

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