Monday, 7 June 2010

BJP sets its eyes on traditional vote bank of the Congress

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 7: The BJP has set aside its Ram Janmabhoomi agenda and plans to reach out to the tradtional vote bank of the Congress in a bid to return to power at the Centre.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Monday said his party would now focus on progress of the nation and fight against poverty, while highlighting the plight of the common man and the farmer.
In an interview to this newspaper here, Gadkari said the BJP would adopt, what he called the 21st century politics, more aimed at progress and development rather than communal issues. Shifting its focus, the BJP is constantly taking up economic issues.
The party will open its arms to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities (traditional vote banks of the Congress) to bridge the 10 per cent vote gap between the BJP and the Congress. The BJP leadership hopes that if the party improved upon its votes by a little over 10 per cent, it will come to power at the Centre.
"The BJP is 10 per cent votes behind the Congress in the country. The BJP need to improve upon its strength in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. We have to strengthen the party base by including Scheduled Castes, Schedued Tribes, minorities and the labour in unorganised sector," Gadkari said.
Stating that the BJP will focus on poverty, price rise and problems of farmers, Gadkari said five committees have been set up so far to address the problem of poverty. Still 41 crore people live below the povertyline in the country. This is because of the wrong economic
policies of the Congress.
The BJP will also reach out to intellectuals, professionals and businessmen. "We will organise meetings with all these sections. Our main focus will be on weak States. Our political and organisational plan is ready and we will implement it soon," he said.
Denying that the BJP is a communal party, the BJP president dubbed the Congress as the most communal party in the country. "The Congress plays the communal politics. It's policy is appeasement of terrorists. The BJP on the other hand, is not against any section of
Making a scathing attack on the UPA government, he said the file relating to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru had been kept in abeyance for four years at the behest of the Union Home Minister. The party that is protecting Afzal Guru is described as progressive and secular.
"And when we raise the demand of Ram temple at the place of birth of Lord Rama, we are dubbed communal. If you oppose foreign nationals illegally settling down in India you are described as communal. We are not anti-Muslim. We are anti-terrorists and anti-communal. We do not
play politics on the basis of caste, religion, creed and region," Gadkari said.
Unfolding the party's new political plan, he said the BJP is not opposed to Haj subsidy. "Sometimes it is tragedy of image versus reality. A section of Press is involved in spreading the misconception about the BJP and its policies. My statement on Jawaharlal Nehru and BJP
internal affairs was misquoted. I have the tapes of my address with me".
On the BJP missing in action party poster boys Atal Bihari Vajyapee and LK Advani, Gadkari said "I am not handicapped. I still get their support. We have a collective team of young leaders like Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu." When asked who would be the BJP's PM mascot, he said "It is not election time. When the elections come we will think of the party's prime ministerial candidate. For now we will expand our political base, expand our party and increase our mass base."
To a question why should one vote for the BJP, Nitan Gadkari said BJP is the principal opposition party which believes in good governance. During the Congress and RJD rule the GDP in Bihar was in minus points. Now the GDP in Bihar is 11 per cent.
On the return of senior leaders like Jaswanth Singh and Uma Bharati to the BJP fold, he said if anyone is interested they are welcome. The party parliamentary board will decide the issue.
"Our main focus will be on Andhra Pradesh and South India where the problem of water is at its severest. We will take up the issue of linking of rivers and conservation of water to increase production by five times." He, however, evaded a question on Maharashtra going ahead
with irrigation projects on the upper Godavari basin, affecting existing irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh.

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