BJP to focus on ‘GDP’ in assembly, Lok Sabha polls: Sudheendra Kulkarni (Interview)

November 10th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will keep its Hindutva agenda on the backburder for the upcoming assembly and even the later general elections in favour of a campaign based on a theme abbreviated as “GDP” - good governance, development and protection of people. “(BJP leader) L.K. Advani believes that common people connect to GDP not when it is understood as gross domestic product but when it is good governance, development and (security to) people,” Sudheendra Kulkarni, an adviser to the prime minister hopeful, told IANS in an interview.

Kulkarni said the BJP’s theme in both elections would be based on the party’s “good performance” in all the states it rules, besides the track record of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that governed the country from 1999 to 2004.

Asked if the new slogan would be popularly acceptable in view of Advani’s known image as a Hindu hardliner, in contrast to that of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said: “It’s an image wrongly created out of a man’s firmness on his conviction.”

“Advaniji has overcome all the adversities because of this created image and the credit for making BJP the frontrunner in the coming elections goes to him,” added Kulkarni.

Kulkarni, a long-time confidant of Advani, said most NDA partners had reposed faith in Advani, one of India’s most experienced politicians and who was deputy prime minister in the Vajpayee government. “You will soon see more and more new allies joining us.”

Kulkarni is confident that a BJP-ruled NDA government would take power in New Delhi after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. “The mandate of the people is poised for change.”

Asked if the BJP had jettisoned its Hindutva agenda, he said: “Advaniji and the party’s commitment to nationalism is unshaken.”

The remarks were a clear indication that the BJP had decided, as it has done in all Lok Sabha elections since 1998, not to rake up the Hindutva agenda — which has proved to be divisive even in the coalition BJP leads — so as to build a larger workable electoral alliance.

Has the BJP then lost interest in its earlier emotive campaign to build a grand Ram temple at the site of the razed Babri mosque in Ayodhya?

Kulkarni responded: “The party has always believed in a peaceful and amicable solution to the dispute.”

Kulkarni was asked why, if the BJP was so good at governance, did the NDA lose the 2004 Lok Sabha battle to the Congress?

“It was anti-incumbency factor against sitting parliamentarians and not the then prime minister or his government,” he reasoned.

The second reason, he said, was that “there was an air of confidence in the party given its government’s sterling performance”. And the BJP’s then slogan “India Shining” ricocheted on itself.

“If we had said ‘India Rising’, it would have worked, for the country’s progress started in our time,” Kulkarni asserted.

According to Kulkarni, what gives the BJP the extra punch now is its performance in the various states it rules.

“Our governments in the states are doing much better than the Congress regimes. Compare Maharashtra, ruled by the Congress, to the neighbouring Gujarat, ruled by us.”

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