The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blueprint for spring in election time

New Delhi, Jan. 10: From “feel good” to “feel great”. Elated by the buoyant state of the economy, the 8 per cent growth rate and the budget-by-fiat unveiled in phases by finance minister Jaswant Singh, the two-day BJP national executive, which begins in Hyderabad tomorrow, will devise strategies to translate “good” economics into “effective” politics.

With the calling of early Lok Sabha polls almost settled, the national executive is expected to do a detailed statewise assessment of the BJP’s projected performance to identify the gaps and plug them. Changing candidates, striking the right alliances and exploring how the “micro management” methodology — honed to an art by general secretary Pramod Mahajan in Rajasthan — could be replicated on a larger canvas are some of the measures the party could adopt.

BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu set the tone for the meeting yesterday by heaping praise on the finance minister and stressing that his package will “benefit all sections of people and strengthen the economy”.

He told reporters yesterday that he had requested Jaswant Singh to address the concerns of the farming, manufacturing and smallscale sectors as also “take care of the lower section of the salaried class”.

“I told him whatever can be done without going to Parliament should be done for these sectors and I am happy he made these announcements,” Naidu said.

The BJP’s intention to put the Jaswant package to good effect in its campaign was indicated by another general secretary, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who took the Congress to task for criticising the measures. “The Congress’ response doesn’t surprise us at all. The feel-depressed Congress cannot see the visible feel-good factor and this reflects its frame of mind,” Naqvi said.

The economic resolution the executive is expected to adopt tomorrow will mirror the “balancing” act Jaswant Singh attempted in his budgetary exercise. It will emphasise that there were goodies for everyone: from the upwardly mobile middle class aspiring for less expensive cellphones and lower interest house and car loans to retired people disenchanted with the declining interest rates to farmers and small entrepreneurs.

The resolution will also play up the social security net introduced by the government for the unorganised sector, said sources.

The political resolution, they said, will keep up the “feel-good, feel-great” mood by harping on the BJP’s success in the Assembly polls, a divided Opposition and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “towering” stature versus a “leaderless” Opposition.

However, the party is yet to decide whether a separate resolution or a statement ought to be issued on the Saarc summit and Vajpayee’s fresh peace initiative.

The meeting will take stock of the BJP’s alliances, present and prospective. The sources believed the “tricky” states were Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Bihar, and not Tamil Nadu where it was getting reconciled to a re-alliance with the ADMK as a fait accompli.

There will be a discussion on the Kalyan Singh factor, in which his ability to increase the BJP’s votebase will be weighed against the “liability” of his companion Kusum Rai and son Rajveer Singh. Kalyan has reportedly insisted that if he is to rejoin, Rai and Rajveer have to be given important posts in the BJP organisation, a demand anathema to the state party leaders.

While doing a statewise evaluation, the sources said the executive will consider where simultaneous polls are possible apart from Andhra Pradesh. The BJP has set its sight on Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

While the sources admitted that “beyond a point” Maharashtra and Karnataka could not be “managed” unless the Congress — ruling both states — played ball, Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik has indicated he is not averse to advancing polls.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is watching with interest what moves Kalyan and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh — both supporting the Mulayam Singh government — will make. But a meeting between Ajit Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi held yesterday could upset its Lucknow equation.

The venue of the executive has been named Kushabhau Thakre Nagar in memory of the former party president who died recently.

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