The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP meet to meditate on own manifesto

New Delhi, June 10: The likelihood of the BJP releasing its own manifesto will come up at the party brass’ four-day chintan baithak (introspection session), scheduled from June 17 in a Mumbai suburb.

The meeting, which will be attended by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy, L.K. Advani, is also expected to assess the BJP’s present alliances and identify the ones which would be “fruitful” for the general election next year, sources said.

The recent party leadership controversy, however, will not figure at the session — as earlier speculated — now that Vajpayee himself has expressed his desire to put an end to the matter.

The controversy was sparked by BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu’s description of Vajpayee as “vikas purush” and Advani as “lauh purush”. The sources said Naidu may not be unseated, at least not till the next round of Assembly polls are over.

The debate over the BJP having its own manifesto has been revived by a decision taken at a recent meeting of state party presidents and general secretaries in Hyderabad that the cadre will be “encouraged” to speak unapologetically on ideological issues.

In the last Lok Sabha election, the BJP had gone along with the National Democratic Alliance’s national agenda of governance. In the process, the party had jettisoned its own manifesto because it did not want to join issue with its allies on Hindutva-centric subjects such as the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya and a common civil code.

A large section of the BJP, however, now feels there is no point in the party being “coy” about its own manifesto as several allies are bent on articulating their political stand in their own manifestos.

The other view recommends caution in asking the party to be “carefully worded” on its position on “sensitive” issues to avoid stirring up a controversy within the NDA and reminding it that the temple-mosque controversy is sub-judice.

The sources said the party — if it decides to go for its own manifesto — is likely to reiterate at the session the stand expressed by the Prime Minister at a recent public function here that the Ayodhya “dispute” can be resolved either through negotiations or court verdict or a complementary combination of both.

If a separate manifesto is decided on, then a common agenda for governance will be evolved only after the general election —that is if the NDA is in a position to form the government again.

On tie-ups, the party view is, by and large, the present allies will continue under the BJP umbrella with the BSP being the only new entrant.

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