Top BJP leaders will meet in Nagpur — the home of the RSS — next month for a brain storming session ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The party’s national executive will meet on January 23, followed by its supreme body and the national council, which will sit for two days.
The last such conclave was held in Nagpur in August 2000, a year after Prime Minister AB Vajpayee managed the Kargil war and the NDA returned to power. The party had then come out with a declaration that promised to make a success of the NDA and had asked the party workers to reach out to Muslims and Christians to project itself as a more centrist party.
This time, however, the BJP is driven by anxiety to revive its image, say party leaders. Led by L.K. Advani, who is being projected as the prime ministerial candidate, the leaders are now hoping to persuade their cadre, the Sangh Parivar and the RSS to work together for the parliamentary elections as it is a “do or die” situation for them.
Their primary concern is NDA’s unity. Allies like the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa, with whom the party shares power in the two states, have been squeezing the saffron party’s political space.
Ever since the assembly polls brought mixed results, Advani and party chief Rajnath Singh have been trying to drive away the gloom among party leaders. The BJP lost in Delhi and Rajasthan and retain power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
In fact, on Wednesday, too, the leaders told a meeting of BJP officials that the political situation was not “irretrievable” as was being made out by political rivals.
The BJP will resume selection of Lok Sabha candidates from January 8. So far, it has named more than 20 candidates, including Advani from Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Rajnath Singh from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. The party is also planning to woo first-time voters and hold a Lok Sabha constituency level conclave of workers from January 15 to February 16.