Lucknow: Setting the tone for the crucial assembly election in Uttar Pradesh next year as well as re-iterating its commitment to building a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday kick started its two-day national executive in Lucknow with a clear re-focusing on its Hindutva agenda.
“We are committed to build a grand temple of Ram at Ayodhya. We rededicate ourselves to the cause of establishing a Ram Rajya; in Uttar Pradesh, and in the entire country,” party president Nitin Gadkari said in his inaugural address.
The two-day conclave is being attended by top leaders of he party including Gadkari, senior leader L.K Advani, leaders of opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely as well as chief ministers of BJP-ruled states.
The executive would be followed by a meeting of the state presidents, in-charges and organisation secretaries.
With an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Gadkari said winning Uttar Pradesh was crucial to regaining power at the centre. The meet comes at a time when the party is grappling with a diminishing vote-bank and lack of effective electoral issues in the state.
The party, in its maintained an aggressive electoral stand, saying it would have no pre or post poll alliances in Uttar Pradesh. “We have categorically announced there will be no alliance, either pre or post poll, with the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), Samajwadi Party or Ajit Singh’s RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal),” said party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Elections to the 403-member assembly are due in the first half of next year. In the current assembly, the BJP currently has 48 members in the assembly.
The executive is significant, being the last meet before the next assembly polls in the state due next year.
Badri Narayan, UP-based political analyst, says being emotive, the Ram temple issue gives BJP the much needed momentum in the state.
“Since they do not have any other issue or strength in the state, they have taken up this issue yet again. This is political opportunism and can help the party in the state. In fact, it should have picked up the Hindutva and Ram temple issue last year itself. The bJP wants to develop UP as a model for Ram Rajya and Ram Rajya as a model for political mobilization…Any issue can easily gain traction if it is repeatedly and effectively reiterated,” Narayan said.
The Supreme Court had last month stayed an earlier ruling of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court which divided the disputed land at Ayodhya between Hindu and Muslim groups.
Significantly, the party on Friday also responded harshly to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s letter seeking views on the Lokpal bill saying the Indian Parliament was supreme and the government had not “considered it necessary to consult either the BJP or any political party…” Mukherjee had sought views on issues related to inclusion of the Prime Minister’s Office as well as higher judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal bill after the joint drafting committee comprising government officials and civil society activists struggled to come to a consensus on the provisions of the proposed legislation.
“You will appreciate that in our governance model the Constitution is supreme…Sovereignty lies with the Indian Parliament on matters of legislation. Therefore views of various interested groups have to be placed before Parliament or political parties…and eventually the Parliament can take a final view on the matter,” the letter written by Gadkari states.
Meanwhile, the party continued its attack on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, accusing it of shielding corruption as well as “abusing investigative agencies to target BJP led state governments”.
“It would be an understatement to say that the UPA 2 is both listless and adrift at its second anniversary… UPA’s only contribution has been unlimited growth in corruption, and commodity prices. Besides these two, their track record on other fronts is extremely poor,” Gadkari said.
The party also accused the central government of subverting the federal structure of the country.
“The issue is UPA’s continued attacks on federalism. From Gujarat to Sikkim and Bihar to Tamil Nadu states are suffering from the UPA’s anti-federal assault. The Congress has no respect for Federalism,” Gadkari said.
The national executive of the party also gave a five-pronged approach to deal with corruption, including setting up an independent mechanism to deal with the appointment of a Lokpal to handle corruption related cases, constituting a National Judicial Commission to deal with appointments of judges and to look into any complaints, as well as introduction of open voting at the election of legislative council members.
The last national executive meet of the party was held in Guwahati in January, ahead of the April assembly elections in Assam.