Real test will be in U.P.: BJP

MUSSOORIE, MAY 20. The Bharatiya Janata Party today began a crisis-management exercise in the wake of the electoral reversals suffered in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and the Northeast. Speaking at the two-day meeting of party's central office- bearers, the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, urged the cadre not to be disturbed by these setbacks and gear up for a better understanding with regional forces to ensure the stability of the Central Government, which he said was being threatened by the ``pseudo- secular'' forces.

The party had toiled a lot to come to power and it should be prepared to meet all future eventualities and challenges thrown at it by power-hungry forces. Mr. Advani appealed to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal to read the writing on the wall and refrain from anything that may anatagonise the minorities.

He urged them to have meaningful dialogues with nationalist groups among the Muslims, Jains, Sikhs and Christians to make India strong and the party acceptable to them. Some fatherly advice came for the RSS - that unless the BJP shared power, the Government may not survive a full term.

PTI, UNI report

Putting up a brave front, the BJP today asserted that the recent Assembly poll results were not a setback for the party and challenged the Congress for the ``real test'' in the coming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The two-day meeting to review the poll outcome and chalk out a new electoral strategy accused the Congress and other parties of trying to destabilise the NDA Government at the Centre at the cost of democratic norms and practices.

``The elections themselves have not in any way presented a setback for us, while on the other hand we have improved our positions in Tamil Nadu, Assam and Pondicherry,'' the party president, Mr. K. Jana krishnamurthi, said in his inaugural address.

The party, he said, has improved its strength in Tamil Nadu and Assam and entered the Pondicherry assembly for the first time. Specifically targeting the Congress, he said it was ``deluding itself with the notion that it has gone ahead of the BJP in these elections. The Congress knows full well that the stakes of the BJP in these States were peripheral and the real test will come in Uttar Pradesh in the next few months. The BJP has accepted the challenge of the Congress in U.P. and the forthcoming elections will prove the relative strength of the BJP and the Congress.''

Shake-up in party

Referring to the coming elections in U.P., Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and the civic polls in Delhi and Maharashtra, the BJP chief said, ``We will have to gear up our organisational machinery to meet the electoral challenges this year and early next year... I will be making necessary changes in the national set-up of office-bearers and State in-charges so that our party functions much more efficiently and effectively.''

Under the new strategy, central office-bearers of the party will fan out to 400 district units and interact with 2.5 lakh grassroot-level party workers. ``The objective is to expand the party's base and bring qualitative changes in the cadre,'' the party general secretary, Mr. Narendra Modi, told reporters.

Mr. Modi announced a ``life-long associateship'' drive from August 1 to September 25 to streamline party funding which had sparked off a debate in the wake of the Tehelka expose.

Mamata not welcome

He said there was no proposal to take back the Mamata Banerjee- led Trinamool Congress into the NDA fold in the wake of the Congress-TC alliance's debacle in the West Bengal poll.

Mr. Advani is representing the Government at the meeting which is being attended, among others, by the former party president, Mr. Kushabhau Thakre, the vice-president, Mr. Kailashpati Mishra, Mr. M.L. Khurana, Mr. Pyarelal Khandelwal and Mr. S.P. Gautam.