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PM-in-waiting unveils his plans

Advani promises big-ticket reforms in education, governance and social sector spending — subjects the BJP was not been very enthusiastic to talk, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: May 02, 2008 01:44 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Ever since he was named as the prime ministerial candidate for the BJP-led NDA, LK Advani is working to a script crafted by himself.

While he became the first senior leader of the BJP to attend a function of the over one million-strong Mar Thoma Church in Kerala to send a message to the minorities last week, Advani went before the captains of industry at CII to deliver his economic vision this week.

Advani has promised big-ticket reforms in education, governance and social sector spending — subjects the BJP was not been very enthusiastic to talk because of its pre-occupation with the farmers’ plight.

Advani thinks the BJP must not only proudly own up the reforms undertaken during the NDA but also take the industry into confidence — so that a positive atmosphere is built for the party.

Advani’s pledge is significant since the industry has been quite sceptical about the BJP’s commitment to liberalisation because of misgivings within the party following the beating the NDA took on “India Shining” campaign losing power in 2004.

The BJP had almost confessed - through various resolutions at conclaves since 2004 — having lost out on the issue of the common man to the benefit of the Congress and the UPA and its reforms.

Advani pledged to the business captains that “if people give us the mandate again, our government will be far more ambitious and far more result-oriented than any government has been until now.”

However, he said he was not in any way belittling the achievements of the previous governments. “Therefore, it will be our endeavour — indeed, it will be our mission — to ensure that India makes the deepest dent in poverty than in any other previous five-year period in independent India’s history.”

Advani told the CII on Wednesday that the most important policy reorientation required is the one which would ensure redirection of investment — both public and private — into agriculture and the rural economy.

The Leader of Opposition said the need to protect the poor and needy is here. “More schools and more health care centres will be built or renovated than during any comparable period in the past. So will more houses for the common people in both rural and urban areas.”

“My party and our alliance, under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, contributed to India’s growth and development between 1998 and 2004. We shall do so yet again, if the people give us the mandate in the next Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

“Yes, we could not achieve all that we wanted to. The progress was slow in some areas,” said Advani. “But, the most important feature about our six years in office is that we made India stronger. We made India stronger in security, stronger in development and stronger, above all, in self-perception.”