to set sights on at least 361 Lok Sabha seats –ones that were held by the BJP and its allies sometime or the other since 1989.
<b1>That was the central message from him on the concluding of the BJP conclave on Tuesday as he spoke in his new role, which was held by Vajpayee for so many years. Advani gave his ‘marg-darshan’ after several BJP leaders concluded that the UPA government was down on the hill and Advani as the new mascot was what the people are waiting for.
Warning against over-enthusiasm and complacency among BJP cadres, Advani virtually acknowledged that the BJP needed to work hard to re-brand itself as it is not like the rest of political parties – an image it acquired in office between 1998 and 2004.
His mantra is to project ‘good governance, development and security’ – the three commitments he believed that have gained currency especially after the BJP’s victory in Gujarat. Every BJP leader and worker must act in such a way that the people will see the party by the old slogan.
"The best way,” Advani said, “of creating a nationwide urge for a BJP-led NDA government is to effectively tell the people how we are going to be different from the Congress and the UPA. We must – and we shall be – be different from them on every count on which we have been criticizing them.”
First and foremost, Advani wanted the BJP to send out a strong message that the days of weak leadership are over. Secondly, there shall be no compromise in the fight against terrorism and Maoism. Thirdly, corruption at the top will not be tolerated.
"Fourthly,” he said, “we shall make a sincere and determined effort to ensure that more and more common people, in villages as well as in towns and cities, are able to live better. For this, India’s economic growth will be speeded up and made more broad-based socially and geographically and reoriented to created more jobs.”
Advani asked, “can the NDA win a clear majority? My answer is yes, we can.” He went on to conclude that “I see that, so far, our party has won at least once from as many as 297 Lok Sabha constituencies on its own since 1989. And, if we include the additional 64 constituencies from our stable allies – the Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, Janata Dal and the Biju Janata Dal – have won, we have 361 seats once represented by the NDA.” Earlier, Sushma Swaraj announced BJP teams will fan out to identify the seats, study the impact of delimitation and ways to win them.
This means, Advani said, “we are already a formidable alliance, and if we work unitedly and with a credible agenda of change that appeals to the people, the NDA can indeed win a decisive majority.”
Advani, however, could not hide his apprehension about the performance of the BJP-ruled states in the next round of assembly polls. “I would like those in government and party, as well as the MLAs, to attend to four cardinal tasks: speed up and improve government functioning, explain achievements, find out from people what they have to say about the performance of our MLAs, ministers and take corrective steps. Also, take steps to end internal dissensions and factionalism.”
As part of BJP’s plan to keep old pet themes like the Ram temple, which is anathema to the NDA, Advani did not utter a word on them but spoke against "minority appeasement" while urging Muslims to realise that the Congress’ politics of last 60 years had done them no good.