Top BJP leaders gather in Kozhikode, may redraw national security policy

  • Kumar Uttam and DK Singh, Hindustan Times, Kozhikode
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2016 23:07 IST
BJP president Amit Shah is welcomed by party workers on his arrival at the aiport in Kozhikode on Thursday. (PTI)

The picturesque coastal town of Kozhikode in Kerala, which will host 1,700 BJP leaders over the next three days, could play a role in shaping in shaping the NDA government’s security and foreign policies.

The BJP national council, the apex decision-making body of the ruling party, will brainstorm over India’s response to the terror attack on the army base in Uri and the party’s line on the over-10-week-long unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

Kozhikode or Calicut is the birthplace of late VK Krishna Menon. The legendary diplomat, who later became defence minister, had in 1957 made an eight-hour-long speech--the longest ever--at the United Nations defending India’s stand on Kashmir.

Six decades hence, Kozhikode could again play a role in defining India’s policy on Kashmir--and also its response to recent cross-border terror attacks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will reach Kozhikode on Friday evening, is likely to share his thoughts on the recent developments at a rally the next day.

BJP leaders, known to bristle at the first signs of public outrage over any Indo-Pakistan fracas, have been guarded, albeit pent-up. None have come out in public to endorse party general secretary Ram Madhav’s jaw-for-tooth strategy vis-a-vis Pakistan.

Senior government functionaries have also been cautious. They have called Pakistan a terrorist state and warned that the perpetrators will not go unpunished - remarks that were adequate to preempt many storm petrels - but have refrained from feeding into jingoistic sentiments.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will further address their concerns by slamming Pakistan in her speech at the UN General Assembly on September 26.

It will be the first time post-Uri attack that the entire top leadership of the ruling party at the Centre will join heads to discuss these issues at the BJP national council meeting.

The BJP will surely take a tough line on Kashmir. But will the ruling party draw another red line – talk and terror can’t go together being the first – for the resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue.

After committing to a dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir in the agenda of alliance with the People’s Democratic Party, will the BJP renege on it when it comes to talks with Hurriyat leaders?

What happens to another commitment for a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)?

The BJP’s stand on these issues will determine the longevity of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Kozhikode meeting will also see the BJP make another attempt to showcase the Narendra Modi government’s welfare schemes to fend off attempts by opposition leaders, especially Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, to project it as a party of the rich.

Kozhikode has an important place in the BJP’s history. It is here that Deen Dayal Upadhayay was elected the president of Jan Sangh, the BJP’s former avatar, in 1967.

Upadhyaya propagated the idea of Antyodaya, which means uplift of the poorest of poor.

The party’s national council will attempt to showcase the party’s inclusive agenda to counter the opposition’s allegations about the BJP being anti-Dalit.

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