Neena Vyas

Party demands sacking of Union Minister Antulay

Leaders appointed to talk to allies on

seat-sharing for Lok Sabha polls

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party, in a resolution adopted by its office-bearers here on Wednesday, called for stopping all bilateral engagements with Pakistan to send a strong message to the international community that Pakistan is the epicentre of world terror.

Wherever a terrorist attack takes place in the world, it has some “definite Pakistani linkage” and if Pakistan is not willing to take tough action against terrorists on its soil, India must consider “all options” without resorting to any hype, the resolution stated.

On the Antulay controversy, the party repeated that it would not be satisfied with anything less than the sacking of the Union Minister for Minority Affairs.

Poll preparedness

Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad indicated that the BJP would start preparing for the Lok Sabha poll in earnest by early January with first-time young voters’ conventions and constituency-wise party workers’ conventions which would be attended by booth-level workers.

BJP president Rajnath Singh had on Tuesday set up two committees to look at the reasons for the party’s electoral defeats in Rajasthan and Delhi. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani on Wednesday said that the Congress had not won these two States, rather, the BJP had lost them and there were lessons for the BJP to learn from this defeat.

With the party’s National Executive Committee and National Council scheduled to meet in Nagpur late January 2009, the reports were expected to be ready by then to enable the leadership to work out strategies for the Lok Sabha elections avoiding the mistakes made in Delhi and Rajasthan.

The committee on Rajasthan has as its members Yashwant Sinha and Thawarchand Gehlot, while the BJP’s Delhi debacle will be dissected by Bal Apte and Ananth Kumar.

By the time the National Council meeting takes place in Nagpur the country will definitely be in election mode. Already the leadership has signalled that some of its heavyweight leaders of the next generation may be asked not to contest the Lok Sabha elections as they could then spend all their time helping the party fight the Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP has announced that the business of seat-sharing with its allies will start, as will the process of selection of candidates. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Arun Jaitley has been given the charge of talking to allies, Sushma Swaraj will talk to the allies in Punjab and Haryana. Venkaiah Naidu has been declared to be the chairman of the party’s campaign committee for the Lok Sabha elections. He has also been given charge of speaking to allies on seat-sharing in Maharashtra, Orissa and Assam.

Sushma Swaraj has signalled that she may not contest the elections if that is what the leadership wants. “Instead of being tied down to one constituency, I will be free to campaign throughout the country,” she told a few reporters on Tuesday.

Mr. Naidu is also unlikely to be asked to contest as there is no safe seat for the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. It is not yet known what Mr. Jaitley will do eventually, but he too may be asked to settle for a Rajya Sabha seat so that he can help organise the Lok Sabha elections.