A three-day Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meet that began on a stormy note with the expulsion of veteran leader Jaswant Singh concluded on Friday, with the party admitting it needed to clearly articulate its ideology of "cultural nationalism" to expand its base.
The meeting began on Wednesday in the sylvan setting of this hill station but against the backdrop of a controversial book by former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh praising Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the advice of the party's ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to usher in a generational change in the leadership.
The first on the "chintan bhaitak" or introspection meet's agenda was the expulsion of Jaswant Singh, who has held key portfolios of external affairs, defence and finance in BJP-led governments and spent three decades in the party since its inception, for his book Jinnah - India, Partition, Independence"
But the meet glossed over discussions on a change of guard at the top, with BJP president Rajnath Singh saying octogenarian leader LK Advani would continue to play a major role in the party. "Yes, he will remain the leader of the party," he told reporters in Shimla.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meet, Rajnath Singh said: "We will come out with a future action plan, you can call it the road ahead, on the basis of suggestions during the chintan baithak. The larger goal would be the social and geographical expansion of the party," he added.
The plan would be presented at the national executive meeting expected to be held in September or October for its approval, he said.
The BJP chief said it was unanimously felt that to expand the party's social base, it needed better participation of youth, women, weaker sections, the poor, farmers, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the party and in the states it ruled.
"The participation of the youth in both organisational and legislative activities is also essential. The party units at all levels will have to pay extra attention to identify, encourage and promote the youth."
Asked about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's advice ahead of the meet about the need for younger leadership in the party, Rajnath Singh only said: "We have given due representation to the youth."
The BJP chief said the party was committed to its ideology of "cultural nationalism and integral humanism. It is both comprehensive and inclusive, where there is no scope for discrimination between individuals".
"We realised that this ideology needs to be articulated in a simple and easy way to the people," Rajnath Singh maintained.
The party tried to explain that though its performance in the elections was disappointing, the verdict had shown the "people wished a bi-polar polity" and the BJP was the other pole.
The BJP chief denied there was any internal document of the party analysing threadbare the poll outcome. He said: "No report, no draft was prepared in this regard. Only suggestions from various states were noted down by Ram Lal (the party's organising secretary). The parliamentary election reports from various states were discussed."