Side-stepping all contentious issues within the party, Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari attacked the United Progressive Alliance, describing the first year of its second term in office as a “super flop show,” with “inaction” being its hallmark.
The only reference to the problems within the party was made indirectly when he asked party workers to be like “self-starting engines” instead of waiting for orders from the top. His idea was each worker should empower himself by doing something for the people at the lowest rung, and this, in turn, would empower the party.
But there was no hint of the party's thinking on caste enumeration as part of the census exercise, an issue on which the parent body, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has publicly countered the party's view expressed in Parliament and opposed by senior leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi. Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad refused to say anything that might have brought some clarity, despite being asked questions at a press conference here.
Mr. Gadkari was addressing the opening session of the party's first national executive committee meeting here, after it was reconstituted under his chairmanship.
Mr. Gadkari found fault with UPA II for its inability to control back-breaking inflation, for lack of clarity in its anti-Naxal strategy, for going back on introducing the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha as a result of some political bargains it made for survival, for ignoring the blockade of Manipur and for its “weak” foreign policy.
But the harshest comments were reserved for the handling of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The Congress compromised the interest of the victims for personal and political gains, Mr. Gadkari charged. He noted that the tragedy and the recent court verdict highlighted the weaknesses of the country's criminal justice system. There was a complete failure, and it was a story of “treachery, back-stabbing and betrayal.”
Seeks Congress apology
Mr. Prasad said the Congress must apologise to the country for its role in mismanaging the Bhopal leak case and allowing the main accused, Warren Anderson, who was then head of Union Carbide Corporation, to escape. But he did not think the BJP must apologise for the 2002 riots in Gujarat. “It is a suggestion,” he said, in response to a question whether his party owed an apology.
Later, Mr. Prasad attacked the Centre for allegedly “misusing” the Central Bureau of Investigation, especially in Gujarat.
“We need to conduct a post-mortem of the CBI. We demand the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee for this.”