Taking the cue from the Congress, the BJP on Saturday decided to pan on the “aam admi (common man)” and set the agenda for the “future”.
It announced plans to launch a nation-wide agitation against spiralling prices and focus on farmers’ plight in “distressed” states like Maharashtra, Orissa and Karnataka.
But the issue that dominated the second day of the conclave was “the succession line-up”. Who takes over the party’s reins after Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani? BJP has never debated its probable “second-line” in open houses. “Succession” has always been a closed-door affair— or discussed by leaders on the sidelines.
With ageing Vajpayee and Advani seen as moving into more “exalted positions”, the talk was about Vajpayee spending less time at the conclave. Advani, busy fielding criticism, not was willing to speak on polity. The leader of the Opposition confined his speech to defending the BJP’s performance in Parliament, which came under fire — over nuclear security and the office of profit bill. Advani claimed that the BJP had put the government on the mat — though some felt otherwise.
He ducked bouncers, indicating that the BJP was now more of Rajnath’s “baby” than his or Vajpayee’s. Four days before the conclave, BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil Advocate that Vajpayee and Advani were encouraging a “whole galaxy of second generation leadership to emerge” before the next parliamentary polls.
On Friday, Modi, who has often been elusive since the 2002 Gujarat riots, surprised fellow delegates and the media by interacting with them on the sidelines of the conclave. For once, Modi did not skirt posers on polity saying he would only talk about Gujarat's “development”, when asked if he was planning to relocate to New Delhi after the 2007 assembly polls.