With L.K. Advani finally ensconced as prime minister candidate, the BJP’s second-line leaders each have a new role carved out for them. As deliberations at the three-day BJP conclave drew to close, it was clear to all BJP leaders that Sushma Swaraj has the role that belonged to the late Pramod Mahajan – actual supervision of the elections – right from the stage of sewing up alliances, getting surveys done to the selection of constituencies and candidates.
Swaraj, who enjoys Advani’s confidence when it comes to electioneering, was asked by Rajnath Singh to explain the BJP’s strategy for the 2009 polls just before it concluded.
She had several homilies to deliver. She asked them to get cracking on identifying the seats and candidates in the right manner and not to resist tie-ups with alliance partners as the “larger goal” of unseating the UPA had to be achieved. She also told them not to bicker once the ticket allotment had been made.
Arun Jaitley, who moved a hard-hitting political document at the conclave, is expected to be involved in drafting the new Agenda of Governance of the NDA, along with other BJP leaders and allies. He continues to look after Uttar Pradesh where the BJP has the toughest challenge. Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, and Yashwant Sinha are also set to be roped in for the party’s plans for the middle-class.
The task of wooing farmers, which the BJP proposes to target quite intensively, is to be handled by Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, who had placed before the conclave a set of solutions for reviving agriculture. While Singh to planning to undertake rural yatras, Naidu will be articulating what the BJP leaders feel is best route to revival by taking up the cause of farmers.
At the conclave, the party pledged to cut interest rates and waive loans taken by farmers not just from banks but also from private money lenders, which could run to more than Rs one lakh crore. The party also called for hike in fertilizer subsidy, an agriculture risk fund and a law to bar acquisition of fertile lands for industrial use.
Narendra Modi will remain a key campaigner and an example for efficient delivery. Other BJP chief ministers will be required to ensure that anti-incumbency does not work against the party.