Mumbai: BJP president Nitin Gadkari has given his party three focus areas to work on as it prepares to make a comeback bid at the Center in 2014: Expand the National Democratic Alliance, increase the BJP’s vote share by 10 percent, and concentrate efforts on building a base among the poor, the minorities and Dalits.
Gadkari handed this mantra to partymen at the beginning of the BJP’s two-day national executive meet in Mumbai. Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad also quoted the BJP chief as reiterating that his party would do nothing politically to destabilize the Congress-led UPA government at the Center, though the party is very sanguine that it shall soon collapse on its own.
The crucial meet has on the agenda a change of party rules to allow Gadkari a second term as BJP president. The party also hopes to finalize its strategy for the July elections that will decide who becomes the next President of India. With the general elections just two years away, the BJP also wants to blueprint its plan of attack against the Congress-led government at the Center. Most importantly, the party has to prepare for assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year. The BJP rules both those states and must retain them in the run-up to the 2014 General Elections.
So far, however, the meet has been hijacked by dissension and sulks. Hours before it began, Sanjay Joshi, who was re-inducted into the party by Gadkari just months ago, had to resign from the party executive to ensure that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who wanted Joshi out, would not stay away from the meet. Joshi reportedly said he was quitting as he did not want to cause division in the party. Modi will now attend the meet.
Having to bow to Modi’s pressure is being seen as a big setback for Gadkari, who while welcoming Modi’s decision to attend the meet after all, also praised Joshi’s large-heartedness. Also, while the RSS supports a second term for Gadkari, there is reportedly serious opposition to that from top leaders in the party, including veteran L.K. Advani, who is not attending the meet.
Ravi Shankar Prasad also read out a message from Advani, who, on behalf of the NDA, has called for a Bharat bandh on May 31.