Rajnath owns up BJP poll debacle, stands by Hindutva (Third Lead)

June 20th, 2009 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Amid dissent and blame game in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its president Rajnath Singh Saturday took responsibility for the party’s poll debacle and reiterated the party’s commitment to Hindutva.
Speaking at the BJP’s national executive meeting here, the first since the Lok Sabha election results, Rajnath Singh sought to address dissent by owning up responsibility for the poll debacle while allaying the concerns of the party’s ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), that Hindutva had been put on the backburner.

“The people’s verdict in the election was not according to our expectations, but I take blame for the poor results. But it is not right to say that is a nationwide defeat,” Rajnath Singh said in his opening remarks at the two-day conclave.

Deflecting allegations against the party’s key poll strategist Arun Jaitley, who was absent from the crucial meet as he is vacationing abroad, Rajnath Singh maintained: “The BJP believes in collective responsibility for victory and defeat, and there is no need to single out one person for the poor showing.”

He was tacitly referring to criticism from party seniors Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie who have all called for fixing the blame for the poor Lok Sabha poll results. Without naming Jaitley, they have held him responsible for the debacle since he was the party’s chief poll manager.

The BJP came down crashing to 116 seats from the 138 it won in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

Rajnath Singh said success and failure were collectively shared in his party.

But he added: “Yes, if anyone feels that any person should take the responsibility, then as the president of the party, I am willing to take this responsibility.”

Rajnath Singh also said: “There is a widespread propaganda that the BJP has got defeated nationwide. I do not accept this, because if we analyse the results regionally, then the results are varied and not uniform from state to state.”

He acknowledged that the party was “surprised” by the results, but asserted it was “certainly not demoralised”.

“Why have such results come? This is definitely a subject of serious introspection and analysis for us. At every step we will undertake introspection and analysis,” he said.

Rajnath Singh maintained that there would be no compromise on ideology, and added that the party does not regret the issues raised during campaigning like communal reservation as they were in the “country’s welfare”.

The BJP chief said the outcome of the elections indicated that the country was clearly shifting towards “bipolar politics” and if the party expanded its organisation and took effective steps, “tomorrow will definitely be ours”.

He said the party’s commitment to building a Ram temple in Ayodhya and implementing a uniform civil code was reiterated in the party manifesto, and in the coming years it would need to more effectively convince people about these issues.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, addressing a press conference later, said the election result was not a referendum on the BJP’s concept of Hindutva as it had won seats in many places.

“Hindutva is eternal, liberal, tolerant and a geo-cultural concept. It also represents the basic character of India,” Prasad said, adding that the party feels that it was not able to “articulate it properly and we need to interpret it in a contemporary idiom”.

“Hindutva occupies the same esteemed space in the politics of the BJP as the constitution of India occupies in the politics of the country. Yes, I accept that we may not have been able to disseminate our position on these issues among the people as effectively as it was required in the present context,” he said, quoting Rajnath Singh.

“Perhaps we need to present our views in a better and more contemporary context. For this, it is necessary that we evaluate our organizational structure, campaign and strategy,” Singh added.

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