Chang­ing lanes: BJP talks sec­u­lar to widen reach

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - NATION - Vikas Pathak

NEW DELHI: Is­sues con­cern­ing cor­rup­tion took cen­tre-stage at the BJP’s just-con­cluded con­clave in Su­ra­jkund, send­ing Hin­dutva to the back­ground, even as the party made a spir­ited bid to re-mar­ket it­self as a party of gov­er­nance — rather than an or­gan­i­sa­tion com­mit­ted to con­sol­i­da­tion of Hin­dus vis-à-vis other com­mu­ni­ties.

The shift is be­ing seen as part of the party’s un­der­stand­ing that cor­rup­tion and in­fla­tion are likely to at­tract peo­ple at a time when these is­sues are mak­ing the news. They are also seen as fac­tors more con­ducive to NDA ex­pan­sion.

The BJP has, in re­cent times, sought to in­voke mem­o­ries of the JP move­ment and the Bo­fors con­tro­versy, rather than the Ram tem­ple move­ment.

Party pa­tri­arch LK Ad­vani de­ci­sively broke with the Hin­dutva mantra in his writ­ten speech, say­ing that the party needed to cre­atively re-project its com­mit­ment to sec­u­lar­ism for ex­pand­ing the NDA. This strate­gic move seemed to have echoed Ni­tish Ku­mar’s line that NDA must ad­dress Mus­lim sen­si­bil­i­ties.

This move by Ad­vani is be­ing read as a barb aimed at Gu­jarat chief min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, who is in the reck­on­ing for the prime min­is­te­rial post.

“We should, with full con­vic­tion, re­as­sure our brethren


be­long­ing to the mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties that we brook no dis­crim­i­na­tion or in­jus­tice in deal­ing with dif­fer­ent sec­tions of our di­verse so­ci­ety,” Ad­vani’s speech read, though he skipped it when he spoke. There was no men­tion of the Ram Tem­ple, and party pres­i­dent Nitin Gad­kari em­pha­sised on “good eco­nomic gov­er­nance” as the party’s creed. He sought to mar­ket NDA states as ex­am­ples of good gov­er­nance.

How­ever, sub­ter­ranean fis­sures could be no­ticed be­neath this united pitch. Modi did not get to speak at the na­tional coun­cil meet, and the cen­trestates’ ses­sion — where he was sup­posed to speak — was can­celled re­port­edly due to time con­straints. Many saw this as a way of cut­ting him to size, par­tic­u­larly in the light of Shivraj Singh Chouhan be­ing fe­lic­i­tated for agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment in MP.

At a time when Gad­kari’s aide — Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Ajay Sancheti — has been tar­geted over a CAG re­port on min­ing rights, Ad­vani’s line on elim­i­nat­ing graft in party cir­cles also got tongues wag­ging.

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