Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s absence at a Vande Mataram centenary celebrations in Delhi set the tone for the three-day conclave of BJP leaders looking for ways to revive issues related to “patriotism and terrorism” ahead of the Assembly polls in states early next year in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal Punjab and Gujarat.
As the conclave of 200 top BJP leaders opened with the song, BJP president Rajnath Singh took on Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister for not being present at the national rendering of the song at a Seva Dal and a government function. He charged that they did not go because the Congress did not want to rub its “voters the wrong way”.
"The BJP will not rest till Vande Mataram gets its due respect," Rajnath thundered. The BJP believes that its Hindutva plank will get a fresh lease of life in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Punjab, which go to assembly polls before March next year - but that cannot be done by reviving the Ram Mandir issue.
The party is focusing on nationalism, internal security and the economic insecurity of farmers. In Punjab, the BJP’s ally, the Akali Dal is uneasy. Hectic efforts by BJP leaders saw SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar backtracking from his stand that the Sikh community should not sing Vande Mataram. BJP leaders said the Akali Dal-BJP pact could be strained if Makkar opposed it.