New Delhi: The two-day national executive meet of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that begins in New Delhi on Friday is expected to step up the offensive against the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on a range of issues.
“The meet will focus on discussing current and core issues like price rise, corruption and how to continue the momentum of attack against the government at the centre,” said a party leader who did not want to be identified. The national executive is the top policy-making body of the party and meets once every three months.
The meet will also brainstorm the party’s strategy for the 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where it is struggling to revive itself, and Punjab, where it wants to retain power. The BJP is in a coalition government with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab. The meet comes at a time when the leadership issue in the BJP remains unresolved and various top leaders including veteran L.K. Advani and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi appear to be vying to become the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley during a press conference at party office in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo PTI
While Advani recently announced he will embark on a nationwide rath yatra—essentially a political journey—against corruption from next month, Modi attempted an image make-over with a three-day fast earlier this month for “peace and harmony” in Gujarat.
“The issue of the party’s prime ministerial candidate will also be discussed but that will not be the core top of deliberations,” said the party leader mentioned earlier. Dates and the route for the rath yatra are expected to be decided after party president Nitin Gadkari consults state BJP presidents on Thursday.
“Advani-ji’s yatra dates and route will also be finalized and announced either on 30th or 1st,” the party leader said.
The BJP national executive meet is happening in the backdrop of a divided and embattled UPA increasingly getting mired in controversies. The Congress party, which leads the alliance, is in damage-control mode after an internal note by the finance ministry partly blamed the previous finance minister and current home minister P. Chidambaram for not preventing the 2G spectrum scam.
Subrata Mukherjee, professor at the department of political science in Delhi University, said the BJP has a tough task ahead.
“What is certainly expected is that the BJP will keep up its attack on the government and the strategy for that would be discussed during the meet. However, the BJP is in as much of a crisis as the UPA,” said Mukherjee. “It is a divided house and needs to be able to project a good, moderate prime ministerial candidate from within with a strong mass base. But it does not seem like it is in a position to do so now and, hence, that discussion may be avoided.”
The BJP on Wednesday raised the ante against the UPA over Chidambaram’s alleged role in the 2G scam and said the government was “collapsing under its own contradictions”.
“The UPA is going through a crisis of leadership and credibility,” leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said. “The nation expects that instead of protecting the tainted ministers, he (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) should protect the truth.” Singh on Tuesday accused certain “forces” of trying to destabilize the polity and blamed a “restless opposition” of attempting to force early elections.
“As the Prime Minister has said it all, it is nothing but frustrated outpouring of those who want to grab power by ulterior motives,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Wednesday, adding the BJP was a party “with a rich tradition” of internal dissent.
“When the UPA completed two years of its term in March, the PM and UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi) vowed to fight corruption. In the four months since then, their motto has changed to saving their corrupt ministers,” leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.
The previous national executive meet of the BJP was held in Lucknow on 3 and 4 June, when the party set the tone for the crucial assembly election in Uttar Pradesh and re-iterated its commitment to building a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Nidhi Misra and PTI contributed to this story.