The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP brainstorming on Gujarat lab extension

New Delhi, Dec. 22: Buoyed by the victory in the Gujarat Assembly polls, the two-day national executive of the BJP will begin tomorrow under pressure to adopt an “aggressive strategy” for elections scheduled to be held in four states next year.

The mood in the party is evident from the hardline stand leaders have been publicly advocating since the successful Hindutva experiment in the Gujarat laboratory.

However, a section of the BJP feels that it should exercise restraint when it comes to playing the “saffron card” elsewhere, given the complexities of each of the states going for polls.

Party insiders, however, admit that the Gujarat poll result has brought the hardline agenda back to mainstream politics, which they feared was fading in the era of coalition politics.

The strategy to be adopted during the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — states once ruled by the party — and BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh will also reflect the way it intends to contest the Lok Sabha polls due in 2004.

Immediately after the Gujarat elections, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said this was the “beginning of the victory march” of the party for not only next year’s Assembly polls but also the Lok Sabha elections.

The national executive meeting will be attended by Vajpayee, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Central ministers. The Opposition parties, especially the Congress, is likely to be attacked for adopting a “negative attitude” during the Gujarat poll campaign.

The meeting will discuss the report prepared by BJP general secretary Rajnath Singh on former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar’s recommendation on tax reforms and the Opposition’s criticism of finance minister Yashwant Sinha in the Joint Parliamentary Committee report on stock scam in Parliament.

It will also review the zonal meetings held by the party in Jaipur, Calcutta, Bangalore, Bhopal and Guwahati and their success in garnering support in these places.

The mobilisation drive for new members launched in October and whether it needs to be accelerated in view of the Assembly polls will be discussed.

Sharad threat

Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav today threatened to split with the BJP if the party “adopts Hindutva agenda in the Lok Sabha elections”.

The Union food minister said in Gujarat today that the BJP’s victory was not based on the Hindutva agenda. “Though we fought against the BJP in Gujarat, in New Delhi we are one.”

The NDA has a national agenda and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani have already cleared it, he said. “In the states, however, we will fight elections on our agenda. We will not allow communalism at any cost,” he added.

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