BJP leaders meet to finalise poll strategy

September 11th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyBangalore, Sep 11 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders will begin a three-day meet here Friday to rope in more allies ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections and finalise their strategy to take on the Congress, which is likely to bank on the India-US nuclear deal in its bid to retain power. “The meet will finalise the strategy for the Lok Sabha elections (due early next year),” BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on the eve of the national executive meeting being held at the swank Chancery Pavilion hotel on the Residency Road, one of the busiest avenues in India’s tech hub.

Around 250 delegates from across the country will attend the meet, to be inaugurated by party president Rajnath Singh. Other main speakers at the meet will be the party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Though polls to the Lok Sabha are due in May next year, BJP does not rule out the possibility of the Congress advancing it in the hope of riding on the nuclear deal.

“We should not be surprised if the Congress is thinking of polls in November as otherwise whatever the euphoria it is trying to build over the nuclear deal will wear off by May next,” a senior BJP leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The (nuclear) deal is the only thing that the Congress can hope to sell to the voters who are upset with rising prices, continuing terror attacks that have now spread to Bangalore as well, and the mishandling of the Amarnath shrine land row,” the leader added.

Bangalore was hit by a series of eight low-intensity blasts, for the first time, early this year in which one person was killed and seven were injured.

Claiming that the Congress managed to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls because of alliances it stitched with several parties, the leader said BJP was now trying to bring back some of the allies to its fold.

“The party has set up a panel of senior leaders - Jaswant Singh, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Sushma Swaraj - to bring back old NDA partners and look for new allies,” he said.

Among the targets are AIADMK of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalitha, who was Wednesday reelected party general secretary for the sixth time. The BJP promptly congratulated her on her re-election.

Other parties are also wooing Jayalalitha. Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) president H.D. Deve Gowda, who has moved closer to the Left and Bahujan Samaj Party, also sent a congratulatory message to Jayalalitha Thursday, particularly highlighting her condemnation of attacks on Christians in Orissa last month. Jayalalitha’s stand on the Orissa violence is seen as a pointer to her moving closer to parties opposed to the BJP and the Congress.

Like her, another superstar being wooed by many parties is Telugu matinee idol Chiranjeevi who recently launched the Praja Rajyam party.

“We may approach him if there is an indication that he is willing to consider an alliance with us,” the leader said.

Though the Lok Sabha poll strategy will be the major issue for discussion at the meet, the BJP leaders will also consider the situation in the party-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where assembly elections are due in November.

Recapturing power in the national capital territory of Delhi, ruled by the Congress, will be part of the strategy for assembly polls, he said.

The party’s Lok Sabha poll plank will be based on the opposition to the nuclear deal in the present form, terrorism, inflation and the Amarnath shrine land row, among other things.

The party will organise 150 Sankalp Yatras all over the country beginning with a rally here Saturday, Naqvi said.

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