This is a new mission for BJP — rating president Rajnath Singh’s popularity on the political chart of his home turf, slated to go to the polls next year.
Rajnath Singh on Friday opened one of the party’s biggest-ever convention in his home city, calling for steps to improve the party’s credibility quotient in comparison to other parties.
But, even as he said so, BJP leaders were battling charges that the ruling Samajwadi Party was playing host to them, treating them as “state guests” and ensuring that they were comfortable. As Opposition Congress leaders alleged that chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had rolled out the red carpet for BJP leaders for the convention, party general secretary Arun Jaitley asked the media not “to confuse protocol with politics.” Jaitley said BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj and BJP chief ministers Narendra Modi, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje enjoyed status defined in the official protocol.
The state government had put them in a hotel, declaring them “state guests.” Jaitley dismissed the charges as “ruckus over nothing” and said, “this is not the SP’s hospitality, but demands of protocol.” He said the Samajwadi remained BJP’s principal adversary in Uttar Pradesh and “the BJP negated everything that the SP stood for” even if they shared a common antipathy towards Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party.
Addressing the last meeting of the outgoing BJP national executive ahead of the party’s national council, Singh described the situation faced by major parties as a crisis of credibility, with ratings of political leaders at an all-time low. Singh said the BJP could take a lead if it focused on being a “credible political instrument” when there was a question mark on the purpose, intent and actions of all other parties.
Jaitley, who briefed the media about Singh’s address, said he was referring to the “cynicism about political parties in general, and wanted the BJP to take the lead to make a difference”. Singh’s call for working together to improve BJP’s credibility was seen by some leaders as a call to renew the party’s claim that “it was a party with a difference”. The slogan lost its impact after the party tasted power, owing to bickerings, “corruption” and favouritism.
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