Tuesday, Dec 24, 2002
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By Neena Vyas
The Delhi State unit BJP president, Madan Lal Khurana, felicitating the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, at the BJP national executive meeting in New Delhi on Monday. The party president, Venkaiah Naidu, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, are also present. Photo: V. Sudershan
Addressing the party's national executive committee meeting here today, Mr. Naidu declared: "We shall replicate the Gujarat experience everywhere... It was a mandate for the (Hindutva) ideology..." And above all, he said this one victory (after a string of defeats) had "demolished the myth" of a Congress revival. Gujarat would be projected as the "ideal State". In Gujarat the party's "experience" was that "collective work was the key to success", he added.
It seems the party sees the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as being equal to 14 Congress Chief Ministers. Gujarat is seen as a forerunner of electoral wins in the coming Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi. And these, in turn, would set the trend for the Lok Sabha elections of 2004. "We shall score a hat trick 1998, 1999 and 2004," Mr. Naidu said.
Focus on terrorism
The BJP's "strategy", as evident from Mr. Naidu's address the presidential address has always provided the key to the party's thinking is to aggressively capitalise on the terrorism factor in India and the world by equating the Hindutva ideology with "forces of nationalism", and therefore suggesting that those against Hindutva (the secular parties, especially the Congress) are somehow soft on terrorists, even anti-national.
Mr. Naidu said: "As the Gujarat election process peaked, national perception crystallised the central issues as terrorism and extremism and political opportunism. Our political adversaries were rightly recognised as willing to compromise on national interests for short-term votebank considerations. The people... had been watching the country being bled by terrorists... Gujarat elections offered an opportunity (to the people) to effectively articulate their concerns on these larger issues... the BJP was seen (by them) as a party that understood their anguish... and was determined to address (the problem of terrorism) with firmness and farsightedness.''
It was clear that the BJP's core strategy would be to equate itself with "forces of nationalism" and the Congress with "terrorism, extremism" and forces which are "ready to compromise the national interests for short-term votebank considerations".
The suggestion was clear when Mr. Modi campaigned against "Mian Musharraf". A vote for the Congress was a vote for Mian Musharraf and therefore the minorities were attracted to the Congress which was thus compromising the national interests.
Mr. Naidu also has a word for the new government in Gujarat get down to governance and development. Years ago the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, had talked of making Gujarat an ideal State, but after intense factionalism in the BJP and after the mess following the earthquake and later the rioting that "ideal" was given up. Now the party wants to project Gujarat once again as the "ideal State (`adarsh pradesh')".
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