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Temple or terror? BJP in a fix
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

Nagpur, February 8
The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) wound up its three-day national executive meet held to chalk out a strategy for the forthcoming general elections here today, but without reaching on a conclusion whether the party would revert to its pet plank of Ram and Ram Mandir or stick to terrorism, inflation and good governance, the latter ones supported by its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani.

The party appeared clearly polarised between the two camps, one led by BJP president Rajnath Singh, repeatedly seeking to drag itself back to the Ram Mandir agenda, and the other led by Advani — with party general secretary Arun Jaitley and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi supporting him — pushing for terrorism and inflation plank; consciously refusing to take a hint from fellow general secretary Vijay Goel.

Goel had yesterday said: “Ham Ram ko kabhi bhoolne na denge, boliye Shri Ram Chandraji ki jai (We will never allow Ram to be forgotten, join me in his reverence).”

The dichotomy apparently had Advani worried, who in his valedictory address — and before him Sushma Swaraj expressing the same views — spoke of internal sabotage. Recalling the party’s defeat in Rajasthan and Delhi, Advani said: “Sometimes we do some self-goals. Now, we should swear by God that in the coming LS polls we will not do anymore self-goals.”

Earlier, Sushma Swaraj also spoke at length regarding internal sabotage. She alluded to Mahabharat, saying: “Arjun won against the Kauravas because his charioteer Krishna had sufficiently enthused an initially-reluctant Arjun. Karan lost to Arjun because his charioteer Shalya had his sympathies with the Pandavas.” She said this time the party needed to go ahead with a single strategy in mind: “Is baar to jitana hai (This time we have to ensure a victory).”

Interestingly, pressure from the Ram Mandir propounders eventually forced Advani to speak on the issue even though he preferred to stay mum yesterday. “People are saying BJP has returned to Ram Mandir. I say when did we move away from it. I don’t know why the Union government does not state why we cannot build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. We all say Jai Shri Ram. But we will really feel good saying it after a grand temple is built in Ayodhya,” he said

But Advani’s acknowledgement of Ram Mandir was a clear afterthought, as not a word of that was mentioned in the written copies of speech circulated earlier. There he was closer to the Modi-Jaitley line. Modi charged up the party’s 5,000 delegates by declaring that “terrorism should be replied in the same language”.

Evidently, the line of Advani, Modi and Jaitley is to appeal to the middle classes by stressing on terror, and also to highlight that while on the one hand the Hindus were victims of terror, on the other they were being maligned in the name of “Hindu terror”— an implicit reference to the accused in the Malegaon blast case.

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