Beleaguered Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was absent when the two-day BJP conclave opened as party leaders said she was “pre-occupied” with the Gujjar agitation. Raje has not been very comfortable attending party meetings - whether it is the national executive council - because of dissidents.
Though BJP leaders, attending the conclave, expressed concern over the fallout of the Gujjar crisis, Rajasthan leaders owing allegiance to Raje said she had handled the situation and, in the event of an election, the BJP would fare well.
Similarly, BJP leaders from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh said their chief ministers, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Dr Raman Singh, were working hard over anti-incumbency factors and the Congress could face an outcome as in Karnataka. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister P.K. Dhummal could not attend as President Pratiba Patil was visiting the state.
But the star attraction was new Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. Just as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had pledged obedience to the BJP (to dispel doubts about his national ambitions after the assembly win), Yeddyurappa also promised to remain “humble and loyal to the party forever”.
In his first appearance at the BJP national executive after the elections in his state, Yeddyurappa echoed Modi’s words by stating that his dream too was to see L.K. Advani as the PM. The BJP won the polls in the state last week, paving the way for the first elected government of its own in the south. Responding to the felicitations at the conclave, Yeddyurappa said, “Development is our mantra. Our objective now is that maximum number of Parliament members get elected and bring the BJP government at the national level under able leadership of L.K. Advani.”
An emotionally moved Yeddyurappa said he sincerely thanked the party leaders — Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Modi, and Ananth Kumar — for projecting him as the chief minister candidate. “Having born into a family of farmers, I am from a humble background. The party has blessed me with the office of Chief Minister after recognising my little service and struggle. I remain humble and loyal to the party forever.”