Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday cautioned State committee members in Bihar against sullying the “disciplined” image of the party, even as signs of dissent surfaced in the absence of a section of State leaders.

“The BJP has the reputation of being a disciplined squad. No one should spoil this situation. From all the other States and in Bihar, we have to stand together,” Mr. Jaitley said in his inaugural address at the two-day State executive committee meeting in Patna.

This is was the first meeting on the executive committee after it was constituted in February, under the leadership of the recently elected State BJP president Mangal Panday.

Three ministers, namely Giriraj Singh, Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Chandra Mohan Rai did not attend the meet. CP Thakur, ex-president of the State BJP union and former Union Minister, who had expressed displeasure over the formation of the committee, also stayed away.

Mr. Jaitley said the National Democratic Alliance had to fight as a united force against the entrenched corruption on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule. Praising the “transformation” in Bihar in the last four years of the NDA rule in the State, the senior leader congratulated Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi for putting Bihar on the path of development.

The BJP and the Janata Dal (United) run a coalition government in Bihar.

“Bihar used to be a backward State. When India’s growth rate was soaring, Bihar unfortunately had a bad government. For the last seven years, the NDA has been able to form a government in the State and bring about a transformation. If this trend continues, Bihar will soon have a growth model of its own, like the Gujarat model and that of the Southern States,” he said.

Joining the State government’s accusations of discrimination against Bihar by the centre, Mr. Jaitley backed the demand for special status for Bihar.

“The concerns over the State being neglected are correct. The Centre should not play politics over backwardness. It should act upon its assurance of revisiting the criteria for special status,” he said.

Mr. Jaitley said the national politics had taken a new turn with the likelihood of an early election. In light of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) threat to pull out of the Union Cabinet, he said the UPA allies lacked the capacity to strike a blow, because all of them, including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, were only interested in retaining the corrupt UPA government.

The NDA would have to fight the UPA with all its might. “It is not difficult,” he remarked.

Prime Minister

Mr. Jaitley attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had “dwarfed” the country and made it “helpless” before the world.

“The Prime Minister always says, ‘India stands tall in the comity of nations.’ It is just an oft repeated template. Anyone can defy us. Pakistan can slit throats of our jawans; they can carry out the Hyderabad blasts and attack the CRPF. They can also pass a resolution on a Parliament attacker. But the Prime Minister says terrorism will be delinked from negotiation. That we will walk the extra mile. Italy refused to extradite [Ottavio] Quattrocchi. Their court rejected requests of our agencies in the VVIP helicopter case. And now they have reused to send the marines, going back on the undertaking given to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Schemes to the tune of Rs. 7 lakh crore were pending because there was no “acceptance of the Prime Minister’s leadership.”

The country was again heading towards “an age of terrorism.” The BJP had “no vote bank compulsions” while tackling terrorism, he said. Under the UPA rule, the country saw unprecedented levels of corruption with a slew of scams. The government was trying to “cover up” its corruption.

“The government has become vision-less. It has no strength to take decisions and no policy. Congress leaders have only emerged from the family or those close to it. The party is suffering the consequences. How can a government that has belittled the nation, come to power?” Mr. Jaitley said.

State president Mangal Panday said Bihar would play an important role in “mission 2014.” The state unit “will strengthen the NDA” and prepare for the poll battle from the booth level. Mr. Panday spoke for harnessing the potential of the youth.

BJP national spokespersons Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha attended the meet.