“Reach out to like-minded parties for a viable alternative”

While the focus at the National Executive and National Council meetings of the BJP here was undoubtedly Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the former Deputy Prime Minister and senior party leader L.K. Advani highlighted how it was imperative for the party to work for an NDA-plus scenario to ensure a viable government.

In his concluding address to the Council delegates, Mr. Advani said in order to oust the UPA, the BJP must work closely with all the like-minded parties — both those within the NDA and those outside — to reassure people that a strong, viable non-Congress alternative, with an agreed agenda of good governance, was available.

He also spoke of the need for the party to reach out to the minorities. “I am heartened to point out in this context that a number of Muslim leaders have begun to see through the self-serving propaganda of the Congress party. A good example is the recent comment of Maulana Mahmood Madani, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, praising the performance of the BJP government in Gujarat.

“Salaya is a small Muslim-majority town in Jamnagar district, Gujarat. The municipal elections held here last month gave BJP a pleasant surprise. For the first time in 25 years, the Congress was thrown out. All the 27 seats in the municipality were won by the BJP and 24 of these winning candidates were Muslims.”

He was cutting on the issue of corruption as well as indiscipline in the BJP. “Without mincing words let me admit that our wavering and unprincipled handling of the situation in Karnataka caused great damage to our image. We forgot that the people judge the commitment of any political party to fight corruption not by its pronouncements but by its practice and, when the need arises, by its punitive actions.”

Mr. Advani cautioned against the urge among some workers to be in the limelight at the cost of the party and differences between leaders at the top level.

“The BJP takes legitimate pride in the fact that we are a non-dynastic party that values and promotes internal democracy. But we must recognise that internal cohesion, especially at the top level of the organisation, sustains internal democracy.”

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