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Bid to put ‘divisive’ boot on rival’s foot

New Delhi, Aug. 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today tangentially attacked the Congress for pursuing the “divisive politics of nurturing vote banks”, speaking two days before the Lok Sabha discusses the spurt in communal violence.

His close associate and BJP president Amit Shah spoke in the same vein.

“The BJP can never accept any form of violence,” the Prime Minister told a party national council meeting, days after the party had taken note of Rahul Gandhi’s demand for a discussion of the rising communal violence.

“We are for peace and harmony because these are essential pre-requisites for development. There can be no compromise on this.”

He, however, added: “But there are parties that, even after suffering an abject defeat in the elections, do not give up their vote-bank politics. They want to see a harmonious society divided. The BJP will have to play a leading and responsible role in maintaining social and national harmony because we have to take the country forward.”

Speaking later at the same gathering, Shah referred to the recent sectarian violence in Uttar Pradesh and hurled a barb at the state’s Samajwadi Party government.

“We must make the people aware of the Samajwadis’ appeasement politics. It’s all the more incumbent on the BJP to see that peace prevails,” he said.

The Uttar Pradesh BJP has been attacking the state government after a recent allegation of forcible conversion and rape. Its hotheads such as MLA Sangeet Som, an accused in last September’s Muzaffarnagar violence, are said to be instigating the party’s women activists to campaign against an alleged “love jihad” launched in the state.

The BJP’s opponents accuse the party of riding a two-horse chariot: the central leaders making conciliatory statements while letting the restive Uttar Pradesh cadre to keep the communal pot boiling.

Modi and Shah exuded confidence about the NDA government’s “positive” start.

“Based on my 60 days’ experience, I can say we shall fulfil the people’s hopes and expectations. We have spent a lot of time cleaning and changing the work culture. So many issues in our manifesto have been implemented,” the Prime Minister said.

“I feel distressed that those who could not do a thing during their 60-year rule demand accountability for 60 days in the government.”

He added: “Other parties have their own yardsticks for evaluating performance. I have noticed that the yardsticks for judging the BJP are always more stringent. But I can accept the toughest of challenges.”

Listing his specifics for the BJP organisation, Modi said: “In such a huge country, one PM is not enough, he cannot do all the work.”

As the audience almost gasped, he laughed and added: “By PM, I mean primary members. The BJP needs 100 to 200 PMs in every poll booth. You will see how we can change the political dynamics.”

Modi stressed that the BJP needed to grow vertically and horizontally. “The organisation must expand horizontally and the workers must grow vertically so that this takes the party to new heights,” he said.

Shah focused on the need to enlarge the party’s youth constituency. He told the delegates that when the next membership drive begins in November, the BJP must set up a registration booth at every college in states where it does not have a government.

Shah announced that one minister would now be available for party workers every day at the BJP headquarters.