The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani caution sermon to party

Bangalore, Aug. 27: L.K. Advani suggested today that the BJP leadership and cadre were deviating from the party’s original path and emphasised on the need to reclaim the party’s “real organisational path and political philosophy”.

The deputy Prime Minister said people had great expectations of the “party with a difference” and even a slight deviation from its real path would damage its prospects more than such a deviation would hurt another party. He asked party members to understand this and be “extra cautious” about their actions.

“We have to be cautious about what we do and what we say. Sometimes, we are not cautious,” Advani told party leaders from the five south Indian states at the party’s two-day south zonal conference here. This is the first of the BJP’s regional conferences aimed at strengthening the party organisation.

The BJP is not just a political party, but “a political manifestation of a movement for nationalism. It is a manifestation of cultural nationalism”, he added.

Advani adopted a self-critical posture. He said the BJP has not been moving in the direction it had etched out for itself in the 1998 and 1999 campaigns, where the party’s theme was that it would endeavour to convert swarajya (self government) into surajya (good governance).

The BJP leader underscored the need to correct this. He, however, added that there is no merit in the allegations of Opposition parties, who were trying to brand the BJP as corrupt. Opposition attacks against BJP leaders and ministers, he maintained, were “slanderous” and “motivated” and had sprung essentially from a sense of despair at not being able to dislodge the Vajpayee-led NDA government.

The general response of the close to 500 participants on the speech was that it revealed his resolve to build a new direction for the party and the government. “The organisational field marshal of the Rath yatra days is certainly getting back into the saddle,” was how a Kerala leader evaluated the performance.

BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, five general secretaries and 10 Union ministers are also taking part in the two-day meet. The meeting is scheduled to look at specific organisational deficiencies and possibilities in each of the five south Indian states and evolve plans of action for strengthening the party. Similar exercises are to be repeated in other parts of the country.

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