Surajkund, Haryana: The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday asked its workers to prepare for early national elections with corruption as a central campaign issue, as rifts among the allies and partners of the ruling Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government widen.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari said the UPA government was a sinking ship and it allies were looking at abandoning the coalition. Gadkari’s remarks came in the backdrop of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) withdrawing support from the UPA government on the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, an increase in the diesel price and the capping of subsidized cooking gas cylinder supply. There is also fresh tension brewing between the Congress party and its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra over an alleged irrigation scam.“The country is on the verge of a change and BJP should not make any move (toward) the fall of Congress government. It will go on its own,” said BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha and general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad, citing Gadkari.
Prasad said the BJP president explained the current political scenario to party leaders with an appeal to reach out to the people.
“Given the uncertainty in the UPA government, the BJP is ready for election even in a month,” he said.
Gadkari, who was addressing about 300 top leaders behind locked doors at the party national executive meet on the outskirts of the national capital, alleged that the incumbent Congress government was the most corrupt one since Independence.
Mumbai-based political analyst Jai Murg said BJP has signalled its election preparedness.
“BJP has exploited the current situation very well by disrupting Parliament on the coal scam. It has also benefited from the split of Team Anna. So far, only their top brass were involved in taking on the Congress-led UPA government, but today they have activated their cadres and gave them an issue,” Murg said.
“The party firmly believes that by making corruption, FDI in retail, hike in diesel prices and capping of gas cylinders (issues in the campaign), we will be able to reach out to all sections of society. The message in the meeting was to carry forward the present momentum,” said one of the leader, who attended the meeting.
The three-day event that started with the national executive meeting on Wednesday will now be followed by a national council meeting, where the party will discuss the coming elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Both states are governed by the BJP.
However, the leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj, former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia and former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa were conspicuous by their absence. Though Swaraj was said to be sick, party leaders failed to explain the absence of other leaders. Yeddyurappa, a party stalwart in Karnataka and a key leader of the Lingayat community, has defied the party in the past following his resignation over corruption charges.
According to some leaders, the party is now considering Dharwar member of Parliament (MP) Prahalad Joshi and Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Katilu to be made the state party president to snub Yeddyruppa.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who had not attended the first day of the BJP’s national executive meeting in Mumbai earlier this year over differences with party colleague Sanjay Joshi, is learnt to have told the gathering that the Union government would use the Central Bureau of Investigation wherever it could during the state assembly elections.
“Centre has announced capping of six gas cylinders but some Congress-ruled states are making it to nine on their own. This is a conspiracy to create differences among states by the Centre,” Modi was cited as saying by the leaders who were present at the meeting.
In the next two days, the council’s meeting is expected to endorse the Mumbai national executive’s amendment to the party constitution to provide consecutive terms for the presidential post at national, state and district levels. Current president Nitin Gadkari’s term ends in December, but he’s expected to get a second term. An election for the party president is likely to be held in November.
“Today’s meeting was preparation for the next two days. We will formally ratify the decisions taken at the Mumbai meet for bringing a change in the party’s constitution. On Thursday, party leader Arun Jaitley will move an amendment on the economic resolution that will encompass the fiscal deficit, oil prices, inflation and every other economic activity,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar said.