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Be united, Gadkari tells BJP MLAs

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Taking stock: New Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari (left) with the Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijay Kumar Malhotra (centre) during an interaction with party MLAs in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Taking stock: New Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari (left) with the Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijay Kumar Malhotra (centre) during an interaction with party MLAs in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

‘Party fortunes will rise if we work for SCs/STs and the downtrodden’

NEW DELHI: Calling for an end to factionalism within the party, BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday told the party MLAs in Delhi that groupism would not be tolerated and those indulging in divisive practices would be removed.

Exhorting the party MLAs to work with the people and in particular for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities and people working in the unorganised sector, he said this would help in turning the fortunes of the party around.

Mr. Gadkari, who was invited to the Delhi Assembly premises by Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Malhotra, had a free and frank discussion with the party MLAs. The meeting assumes significance as the party organisational polls here had been suspended recently due to infighting. While originally the process was to be completed by December 15, it was subsequently postponed to January 15 and then suspended midway.

The meeting saw prominent Delhi leaders coming together on a common platform. Besides Prof. Malhotra and most of the 24 party MLAs, it was also attended by Delhi BJP president O. P. Kohli, Delhi Mayor Kanwar Sain and former Mayor Arti Mehra.

Mr. Gadkari said the party at large would see several developments over the next three months. A formal plan of action is being designed, he added.

The BJP leader said the party would also raise the issue of price rise at different forums, adding that a three-tier programme has been thought out to make people aware of the situation. “The protests would take place at the district, State and national levels,” he said.

The first of the protests has been planned in front of Parliament in the first half of March, he said, adding that the Centre had failed to control the sharp increase in the prices of essential commodities. “We are also planning to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue,” he said.

During the nearly hour-long meeting, the BJP leader also raised the issue of migration to the big cities, particularly Delhi and Mumbai, and how that was putting extra pressure on their infrastructure. He called for urgent steps at the highest level so that people got employment in other centres and there was a lesser need for them to shift to the big cities alone.

“Migration is taking place at a rapid pace and this is posing a major challenge to governments. They have to provide water, power and housing to the increasing population. We need a national discussion for finding a way out of this situation,” he said, adding that the Centre’s policies were to blame for the present situation.

Despite the party’s poor showing in the Delhi Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Gadkari had words of encouragement for the party leaders and workers. He said the difference in vote share between the Congress and the BJP was only 10 per cent and the party should work among the underprivileged, poor and downtrodden as helping them would also improve its own prospects.

Stating that he wanted India to become a superpower, the BJP president said while elections should be won, winning them was not everything. “If we lose an election, it is not the end. We are a party with a difference and want overall development of the country,” he declared.

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