BJP changes lane, talks secular to widen reach | delhi | Hindustan Times
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BJP changes lane, talks secular to widen reach

Issues concerning corruption took centre-stage at the BJP's just-concluded conclave in Surajkund, sending Hindutva to the background, even as the party made a spirited bid to re-market itself as a party of governance — rather than an organisation committed to consolidation of Hindus vis-à-vis other communities.

delhi Updated: Sep 30, 2012 09:53 IST
Vikas Pathak

Issues concerning corruption took centre-stage at the BJP's just-concluded conclave in Surajkund, sending Hindutva to the background, even as the party made a spirited bid to re-market itself as a party of governance — rather than an organisation committed to consolidation of Hindus vis-à-vis other communities.

The shift is being seen as part of the party's understanding that corruption and inflation are likely to attract people at a time when these issues are making the news. They are also seen as factors more conducive to NDA expansion.

The BJP has, in recent times, sought to invoke memories of the JP movement and the Bofors controversy, rather than the Ram temple movement.

Party patriarch LK Advani decisively broke with the Hindutva mantra in his written speech, saying that the party needed to creatively re-project its commitment to secularism for expanding the NDA. This strategic move seemed to have echoed Nitish Kumar's line that NDA must address Muslim sensibilities.

This move by Advani is being read as a barb aimed at Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who is in the reckoning for the prime ministerial post.

"We should, with full conviction, reassure our brethren belonging to the minority communities that we brook no discrimination or injustice in dealing with different sections of our diverse society," Advani's speech read, though he skipped it when he spoke. There was no mention of the Ram Temple, and party president Nitin Gadkari emphasised on "good economic governance" as the party's creed. He sought to market NDA states as examples of good governance.

However, subterranean fissures could be noticed beneath this united pitch. Modi did not get to speak at the national council meet, and the centre-states' session — where he was supposed to speak — was cancelled reportedly due to time constraints. Many saw this as a way of cutting him to size, particularly in the light of Shivraj Singh Chouhan being felicitated for agricultural development in MP.

At a time when Gadkari's aide — Rajya Sabha member of Parliament Ajay Sancheti — has been targeted over a CAG report on mining rights, Advani's line on eliminating graft in party circles also got tongues wagging.

There is unanimity on the governance pitch at the moment, but one-upmanship is also lurking in the shadows.