The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP goes back to Hindutva
- National security cover for campaign

New Delhi, Sept. 1: The BJP has decided to stick to its core electoral plank of Hindutva as it starts preparing for the next general elections with an assessment that it barely has 200 days in hand.

This was decided at a meeting of the party’s core committee yesterday, followed by another of office-bearers today.

But the party has learnt its lessons from the recent Uttar Pradesh elections where its anti-Muslim propaganda boomeranged. So now it wants to package its message with greater sophistication and has decided to build up a campaign around minority appeasement and national security.

Party chief Rajnath Singh has formed a committee headed by former president M. Venkaiah Naidu to plan programmes highlighting the two issues, which the BJP leadership thinks are interlinked.

Party leaders, while debating the prevailing political situation, felt that the nuclear deal cannot become an election issue.

Had the polls been held soon, say in November, the issue could have marginally affected electioneering. But since elections will be at a later date, there was no point harping on the intricacies of the agreement before the common man.

So, the leaders said, it was better to stick to issues like betrayal of the common man by the Congress-led UPA government, terrorism, price rise and the plight of farmers.

Rajnath and L.K. Advani dwelt on the party’s approach, arguing that the issues of national security and minority appeasement had acquired greater appeal in the context of a series of terror strikes and the Sachar committee’s recommendations.

The BJP chief spoke at length on the action-taken report on the Sachar committee’s recommendations, arguing that the UPA’s vote-bank politics would result in creating an atmosphere of distrust and divisiveness.

“From religion-based job reservation, we all are now moving towards communal development expenditure and communal budgeting,” he said.

When some leaders questioned the party’s periodical dilemma about being pro- and anti-Muslim, Rajnath said the issue should not be seen as such because the policy of appeasement was dividing society.

Sources said the subject came up as the party had tried in vain to woo Muslims in the last general elections. In constituencies like Lucknow, they added, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s campaign managers had prepared publicity material in Urdu and accepted the support of Muslim intellectuals.

Nothing of that sort will be repeated now. The party chief said the BJP will launch a countrywide agitation against the implementation of the Sachar panel’s recommendations.

He said the BJP should tell people that the recommendations were a case of reverse discrimination.

Advani told the office-bearers that the government’s approach towards terrorism was callous.

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