‘A re-projection of the party’s commitment to secularism will reassure other parties’

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Friday said the party needed an “imaginative re-projection” of its commitment to “secularism” ahead of the next general election — which he believes will be held eight months down the line. Mr. Advani was speaking at the concluding session of the party National Council meet here.

In the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other party leaders, Mr. Advani said the image makeover was needed to reassure potential allies that they have nothing to be “apprehensive” about in partnering with the BJP.

In contrast to the high-decibel speeches targeting the UPA, the Prime Minister and the Congress president earlier, Mr. Advani’s remarks on Friday were directed largely at the party leaders and cadres.

“No discrimination”

“We should, with full conviction, reassure our brethren belonging to the minority communities that we brook no discrimination or injustice in dealing with different sections of our diverse society,” Mr. Advani told the delegates.

Mr. Advani said he had asked party president Nitin Gadkari to think about finalising the party’s list of candidates for the coming election.

The senior leader asserted that the BJP could lead the next government if it succeeded in obtaining a broad alliance. “The situation calls for a broad anti-Congress platform: Stronger BJP plus Larger NDA plus NDA Plus.”

Condemning the controversial anti-Islam film, Mr. Advani said: “The situation calls for the kind of flexibility in tactics, combined with firmness in principles, which Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya frequently adopted, and which Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee successfully demonstrated by forming and leading the NDA in 1998.”

Mr. Advani stressed that the party leaders and cadres must ensure that they were untainted. “Our leaders, Ministers, elected representatives and karyakartas should conduct themselves in such a way that whenever the people think of the BJP, they are reminded of this USP,” he said.

The former Karnataka Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who stepped down on account of the illegal mining scam, stayed away from the Council meet.

‘One voice’

“We must ruthlessly put down the tendency to speak in multiple voices… Whenever the party has willed something strongly, worked unitedly, made sacrifices of individual ambitions and chosen to be guided by noble ideals, our efforts have invariably met with success,” Mr. Advani told the delegates.

While the senior BJP leader played the role of elder statesman, Mr. Modi took centre-stage at a public rally winding up the conclave.

Earlier in the day, the Council amended its constitution, enabling the party president, State and district unit chiefs to get a second term, which paves the way for Mr. Gadkari to seek another term for the top post after he completes his present tenure in December.