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BJP Future - 6
What is going on here? Why should advani say that he was not there? Why say this white lie? Obviously advani NOW knows how damaging it is for a home minister to travel with a terrorist on the same plane, but did he not know at that time? Probably thought it would be a photo-op like opening a building or a bridge. And why would Fernandez contradict advani? Either he is not in good terms with advani or is that brutally honest type. Either way advani should have known better. Wasn't paswan also in govt that time?

This problem is similar to the bosnia white lie issue that is dogging hillary clinton. to the un-initiated, hillary had visited bosnia in 1996 in the middle of the war to cheer up the US troops. Apparently she was warned about sniper fire and other dangers before they landed. during campaign, hillary claimed that she heard sniper shots during the visit and had to run to the plane under grave threat. One comedian who had gone with hillary immediately contradicted, saying the only threat they came under was "excess food" that they had stuffed themselves with. hillary said that comedian was mistaken. unfortunately for hillary, the entire video of the tour came out that showed no sniper fire and proving hillary to be a liar. after the video came out hillary said she made a "mis-statement". as a result hillary's campaign is tanking. politicians lying is a big thing in US as people in US expect their leaders to be honest and held to a higher standard, even if people themselves are not.

I think advani's mis-statement is more damaging as there is nothing wrong with a peaceful visit to bosnia but travelling with a terrorist on the same plane to exchange him is horrible. he should have just moved on, saying that at that time he was more concerned with the lives of the passengers more that about travel arrangements.

This brings to a more important questions... why do leaders that I support get caught like this???? <!--emo&:flush--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/Flush.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='Flush.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Fernandes drills hole in Advani hijack defence

New Delhi, March 28: George Fernandes has asserted that L.K. Advani did attend the meeting of ministers which decided Jaswant Singh should fly to Kandahar with the terrorists to be traded off for the passengers of a hijacked Indian plane.

The veteran ally’s remarks left the BJP speechless days after Advani had claimed he was initially unaware of the controversial decision, and came to know of it at the last minute.

“Yes, all of us were present,” Fernandes, the National Democratic Alliance convener, told interviewer Karan Thapar when asked whether Advani was at the meeting.

Fernandes was defence minister and Advani home minister in December 1999 when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government decided that foreign minister Jaswant should accompany the freed militants to Afghanistan.

When Thapar mentioned Advani’s recent claim, Fernandes suggested the BJP leader might not have been at the meeting “at that point of time” and said he didn’t think Advani was “lying”.

But when the interviewer suggested that Advani’s recollections could be faulty, the Janata Dal (United) leader, according to the transcript, said: “Yes, that can happen.”

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar refused to answer questions relating to the interview, to be telecast on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate on Sunday. The party had on Monday endorsed the version of Advani, now its shadow Prime Minister.

Fernandes’s remarks will provide ammunition to the Congress, which has anyway ripped into Advani’s claim.

Some BJP leaders expressed anguish at the ageing and ailing NDA convener’s “indiscretion”. They tried to play down the remarks, saying Fernandes’s memory has been failing him.

But many party leaders admitted in private that Advani’s attempt to wash off the Kandahar blot had breathed fresh life into the dying controversy. They declined to be quoted, saying it was for Advani to set the record straight.

Some in the party see a possible escape hatch in Fernandes’s suggestion that Advani may not have been at the meeting when the decision was taken.

Earlier, the BJP, asked how a home minister could have been so badly out of the loop, had claimed that Advani had indeed been part of the decision to free the terrorists but the meeting had not discussed the details of their Kandahar trip.

Advani, projected as a strong leader concerned about national security, has been at pains to disown the Kandahar capitulation. His recent “revelation” came after a failed whisper campaign about his opposition to the militants’ release.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM-->QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Obviously advani NOW knows how damaging it is for a home minister to travel with a terrorist on the same plane, but did he not know at that time?

Srini, Advani did not travel to Kandhar on the plane. It was Jaswant.
<!--QuoteBegin-Harshvardan+Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM-->QUOTE(Harshvardan @ Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Obviously advani NOW knows how damaging it is for a home minister to travel with a terrorist on the same plane, but did he not know at that time?

Srini, Advani did not travel to Kandhar on the plane. It was Jaswant.

My bad!! I realized that after I posted. still the situation is the same. advani is caught telling a while lie.
<!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 07:18 PM-->QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 07:18 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-Harshvardan+Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Harshvardan @ Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Obviously advani NOW knows how damaging it is for a home minister to travel with a terrorist on the same plane, but did he not know at that time?
Srini, Advani did not travel to Kandhar on the plane. It was Jaswant.
My bad!! I realized that after I posted. still the situation is the same. advani is caught telling a while lie.
Advani was not taken into confidence about the release of terrorists. This was news even during the kandhar crisis. Advani has always maintained an strong stand against terror and even implemented the "pro-active" policy when dealing with cross-border terrorism from pakistan.
<!--QuoteBegin-Harshvardan+Mar 29 2008, 09:59 AM-->QUOTE(Harshvardan @ Mar 29 2008, 09:59 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 07:18 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 07:18 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-Harshvardan+Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Harshvardan @ Mar 29 2008, 09:31 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(LSrini @ Mar 29 2008, 05:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Obviously advani NOW knows how damaging it is for a home minister to travel with a terrorist on the same plane, but did he not know at that time?
Srini, Advani did not travel to Kandhar on the plane. It was Jaswant.
My bad!! I realized that after I posted. still the situation is the same. advani is caught telling a while lie.
Advani was not taken into confidence about the release of terrorists. This was news even during the kandhar crisis. Advani has always maintained an strong stand against terror and even implemented the "pro-active" policy when dealing with cross-border terrorism from pakistan.

This is news to me. I thought the exchange was done by the entire nda govt either due to public opinion about saving indian lives or some high ranking foreign official being one of the hostages.

again releasing terrorist is not as much issue as the travel arrangement. advani should have just said that lives of indians is important instead of a convicted terrorist like afzal guru and deflected all further discussion. explaining these things do not help.
<!--QuoteBegin-LSrini+-->QUOTE(LSrini)<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is news to me.  I thought the exchange was done by the entire nda govt either due to public opinion about saving indian lives or some high ranking foreign official being one of the hostages.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The hijackers had conveyed to the Indian government that if their demands were not met then the airplane would be taken into the sky and blown off, naturally killing all indians onboard. Now this threat may seem silly but when we recall the 9/11 incident then the seriousness of the situation can very well understood.

Another important issue that led to the release of the 3 terrorists was the attitude of the taliban. The taliban had surrounded the plane in kandhar with their men positioning their rocket launchers and Ak-47 towards the plane in an offensive posture. This clearly showed that taliban were with the hijackers and not interested in the safety of the hostages. This made the job of the government negotiators more difficult since they had to not only handle the hijackers but also these taliban jehadis.

The taliban rule was not recognised by India or most of the world. Only saudi arabia and pakistan recognised it. This led to more complications in the negotiations as taliban were not believing that Indians would fulfill their promise of releasing the hostages. They thought some kind of military action was being planned with plane carrying the to-be released terrorists instead carrying military personnel. Recall the german operation magic fire.

To prevent this type of rescue attempt the Taliban clearly stated to the Indian government that only 1 airplane would be allowed into their airspace which had to carry the to-be released terrorists as the well as the Foreign minister Jaswant Singh to oversee the handover.

There was a clear cut warning that if another plane was found to have been intruding into Taliban controlled afghan airspace it would be shot down by captured soviet anti-craft guns and the US supplied stinger missiles.

Now we can very well see that if the course of action taken then was not followed then today we would be mourning the death of the Indian hostages.

Mr. Karat vowed to prevent the Bharatiya Janata Party from coming to power. The BJP would look for allies to return to power at the Centre, as it cannot do so on its own. The CPI(M) would ensure, through efforts such as the third alternative, that the BJP did not get the support of any party. “The BJP will know that its way to power is blocked forever.”

Accusing communal forces of blocking the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project by arguing that the Ramar Sethu would be damaged, he urged the Centre to complete the project as it would be beneficial to Tamil Nadu as well as the nation. The CPI(M) would continue its struggle for the implementation of the project.
Attacks on party offices

Criticising the BJP and other communal forces for attacks on the CPI(M) offices, Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said the party would launch democratic protests against such actions so that the BJP got more isolated. “The BJP was under an illusion that it has already come to power in New Delhi.” <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<b>NDA will cancel schemes announced by UPA to appease minority</b> <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Apr 6 2008
New Delhi

BJP has said if NDA comes to power at the Centre in next general elections, it will cancel all the schemes being implemented by the UPA government to "appease a particular community".

<b>"If NDA comes to power at the Centre in the coming Lok Sabha polls, we will cancel all those schemes announced by the UPA government on the basis of religion to appease a certain section,"</b> <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->  BJP President Rajnath Singh told PTI in an interview.

He said the welfare measures announced by the Centre to provide benefit to a particular community was "dangerous" for the country and NDA will withdraw all those schemes straightway. He did not name the community but the reference was apparently to Muslims.

<b>"We will not give scholarship to somebody on the basis of whether he is Muslim or Christian. Our welfare measures will be based on economic condition of the people,"</b>  <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> Singh said, strongly criticising certain schemes in this year's budget.

Confident of NDA's return to power in the coming general elections, the BJP president said talks are going on with many political parties so as to expand the NDA fold. "Talks are going on with many political parties to expand the NDA," he said.

Singh, however, declined to name the parties with whom talks are in progress, cryptically saying "I am confident that the number of parties in NDA will certainly increase soon.".<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>BJP shifts from Modi to Atal model for keeping allies intact</b>

<!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Rolleyes--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Looks like Nitish Kumar is a closet commie/socialist and is aligning with BJP only for temporary gains. He is opposed to Modi or projecting Gujarat as NDA model.

Why should he be completely opposed to monarchy?
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->No crown, it's a symbol of monarchy, says Nitish

Purnia, April 11:
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday returned a crown presented to him by his party workers at a function in Purnia, saying it symbolised monarchy.
“The crown is a symbol of monarchy which is an anachronism in today’s democratic society. I am here to serve the people with the power of the pen. Today’s world is that of knowledge symbolised by pen and not that of brute force of the baton,” he said addressing a JD(U) rally for economic and educational development at Baisi in Purnia district.
Over 17,000 people from the area joined JD(U) at the rally. Welcoming them to the party fold, Kumar said it would further strengthen JD(U) in the Kosi belt.
“<b>My government is committed to inclusive growth and development. We don’t believe in excluding any section from this process, but definitely our focus is on the development of the minorities, women, dalits and other backward classes so that they are brought at par with the developed sections of the society,</b>” he said.
He said Rs 380 crore has been allocated for the fencing of 8000 graveyards and a ten-point programme was being implemented for the social and economic development of the religious minorities.
Describing last year’s floods as the most devastating in recent years, he said while Rs 1.5 lakh was given to each family whose members died in the disaster, the government had undertaken a massive programme for construction of pucca houses for over five lakh families whose dwellings were destroyed.

Whatever it is, he is far better than Laloooo.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Advani says he learnt meaning of secularism from Golwalkar

Thu, Apr 17 10:26 PM

New Delhi, Apr 17 (PTI) Senior BJP leader L K Advani, who once faced flak from the RSS for dubbing Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah a secular leader, today said he learnt the meaning of the word secularism from none other than M S Golwalkar, the Sangh ideologue. Advani said Golwalkar, who took over the reins of the RSS after the death of its founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, firmly believed that rule on the basis of religion is not possible in India and RSS does not approve of such a system.

"Guruji (Golwalkar) was of the view that theocracy is totally alien to the concept of Hindu polity," Advani said after releasing a special issue on Golwalkar brought out by Madhya Pradesh-based media group 'Swadesh' rpt (Swadesh). He was recollecting his interaction with Golwalkar after the RSS was banned in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination in 1948.

Advani said initially the Government banned RSS on the suspicion that it had a role in the killing of Gandhi and later media reports quoting officials said the reason was that it did not believe in secularism and it was a secretive outfit. In the wake of the reports, Advani said, he asked Golwalkar what was the meaning of the word secular when he got a chance to meet him.

Quoting Golwalkar, Advani said he told him that if the Government believes that RSS wants a rule on the basis of religion then they are wrong as "theocracy is totally alien to the concept of Hindu polity." "I learnt the meaning of secularism from him," he said.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who also attended the function, said Golwalkar's views were still relevant in today's globalised world. PTI.

BJP wants NDA allies to be part of nationwide stir
Express News Service
Posted online: Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 2334 hrs Print Email

New Delhi, April 18: The BJP now wants to rope in NDA allies in its plan to undertake a nationwide agitation against the UPA Government over price rise. The party hopes it will bring rich dividends in the election season, beginning from Karnataka next month.

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Karnataka India Get Government Grant Samajwadi Party

As reported by this paper, the party wants to call for a bandh to capitalise on the middle class discontent. It may not be called a bandh though, for it could attract PILs, especially when courts have taken a dim view of hartals lately.

The party also constituted a six-member committee comprising Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Vijay Goel, Balbir Punj, Ravishankar Prasad and Prakash Javdekar that will prepare a blueprint for the agitation. The NDA will now meet on Monday to discuss the nitty-gritty of the agitation.

“Prices of essential commodities have never shot up to such a high in such a short span of time before. Whenever the Congress has come to power, prices have increased,” party chief Rajnath Singh said after a meeting of office-bearers.

A political resolution adopted at the meeting condemned Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s suggestion for using Pakistani currency in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the Congress to explain its position. The post-election Nepal scenario and the UPA Government’s stand on the Chinese crackdown on Tibetans “that hurt the nation’s independent foreign policy” was also discussed.

The BJP has decided to hold its national executive in Jaipur in the last week of May.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists have decided to fan out across the country to get views of hoi polloi on price rise.

The activists would pose as reporters of Mehngai TV and present Congress president Sonia Gandhi with a CD with the aam aadmi’s woes. A mock exercise, wherein the “Manmohan Bank” extends loans to the aam aadmi to buy everyday essentials, would also be undertaken.

BJP win will be a dangerous development: Yechury

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: Results of the polls to the State Assembly will have a bearing on the elections to the Lok Sabha in 2009, and should the BJP emerge victorious in the Assembly elections, it will project itself as having a pan-India presence, a dangerous development for the country, Sitaram Yechury, Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has said.

Speaking at a function organised by the party to release the “CPI (M) Appeal to Voters” here on Monday, Mr. Yechury said that “a pan-India status of the BJP will have a deunifying effect on the country, altering the policy and economic trajectories based on religious and communal issues.” Mr. Yechury stated that the aim of the BJP was to create a “unipolar society” by destroying linguistic, religious, communal and cultural diversities, which the country had been cherishing for centuries. “This will create an implosion in the country which will delay our progress as well as divert our energies to crisis management and conflict resolution instead of achieving growth and progress,” he said.

He said that at this juncture when Karnataka was known as a knowledge generator and a harbinger of progress “voters cannot allow the fundamentalist parties to convert it into a second Gujarat.” Stating that the divide between the “haves and the have-nots” was widening in the country, Mr. Yechury said there were clearly two Indias — the shining India and the suffering India.

Mr. Yechury said that the rising inflation will further widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The most dangerous effect of rising prices would be food commodities going out of the reach of the poor people.

He said the UPA Government had allowed 25 commodities to be subjected to forward trading and future trading, which had encouraged large-scale speculation. This system was alien to the Indian market, but due to the pressure from the CPI (M) and other Left parties, the Government had reduced the number of commodities to 22, by keeping out wheat, rice and pulses from the forward and future trading.

^ Yechury has already started crying even before the elections are held. He must be sure that his china party will lose this elections too like the previous ones.

Mr. Yechury Ding dong should take care to see that the religious and linguistic minorities in Nandigram and Kannur are protected by his communist governments otherwise people from the rest of the country will do an Nandigram on him.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Trouble in BJP
Does the centre still hold?

All of a sudden the BJP is going through convulsions in State after State, with the central leadership of the party unable to either solve internal problems before they become too acute to be kept under wraps or deal with crises in a manner that no damage is done to the organisation's image. In Bihar, senior legislators who have been dropped from the Council of Ministers or shunted to lesser Ministries despite performing well are up in arms -- their outrage cannot be just swept aside as the fulmination of 'disgruntled elements' or 'habitual dissenters'. The least that was expected of the party leadership was to take these legislators into confidence, although there really is no justification in punishing performers unless the reasons have nothing to do with the BJP's interests. Even before the BJP's central leadership has been able to douse the flames raging in the Bihar unit of the party, trouble has erupted in Maharashtra. The most visible face of the BJP in that State, Mr Gopinath Munde, who commands substantial support among rural voters and has spent the past many years tirelessly building the party, has been rudely snubbed by those currently in charge of the Maharashtra unit. Mr Munde has responded by resigning from all party posts and lashing out at both the State and central leadership, alleging lack of inner-party democracy. Mr Munde, whose loyalty is unimpeachable, is not a novice in politics and would not have behaved in such a belligerent manner unless provoked to the extreme. Obviously, problems have been allowed to fester for too long in Bihar and Maharashtra by a central leadership distracted by, or obsessed with, issues that have nothing to do with the party organisation. If the situation in Bihar and Maharashtra should cause alarm at the BJP's headquarters in New Delhi, the state of affairs that prevails in party units in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and elsewhere should trigger serious concern.

Is it a coincidence that just before the election we see these news about turmoil inside BJP

Nothing should be taken for granted, Power lobby will try to pay money and get the BJP party leaders at state level to start fighting

Powerful lobby has lost money in the nuke deal and may not want the BJP to come back to power.
<!--QuoteBegin-acharya+Apr 22 2008, 04:25 PM-->QUOTE(acharya @ Apr 22 2008, 04:25 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is it a coincidence that just before the election we see these news about turmoil inside BJP

Nothing should be taken for granted, Power lobby will try to pay money and get the BJP party leaders at state level to start fighting

Powerful lobby has lost money in the nuke deal and may not want the BJP to come back to power.

We still see efforts being made to push the nuclear deal. This has to be taken note of. I am still disturbed by the fact that this deal has not yet had its "antyeshti".

It is clear that the rich "private business" lobby is fully willing to weaken the nation to fatten its purses. Any true Hindu resurgence can happen only by stripping this class of its power completely. It is not for nothing that business people were not allowed to influence political decisions in ancient Bharat. Chanakya too, recommended state control of key sectors of the economy.

It is a pity that no Hindu political force has this clear cut uncompromising thought. Also, it makes sense in the bigger picture. Those who want a Hindu resurgence are dissatisfied with status quo. As are the poorer sections of society. So why not develop a platform that is nationalistic while it welds both these streams of public feeling into a powerful political force ?

A part of this platform has to be a form of state control of the economy coupled with pro-Hindu ideology guiding the state. With a full commitment to stripping the DIE and business lobbies of their power completely.


Will Gujarat model click in State?

B.S. Satish Kumar

Language teams in BJP campaign

BANGALORE: The Bharatiya Janata Party is set to replicate its Gujarat model with respect to “linguistic campaign teams” in the coming Assembly elections in Karnataka. The party State unit is getting over 1,000 of its members from six different language-speaking States to make an appeal to their respective linguistic communities to vote for the BJP.

These select party workers are from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

The BJP organising secretaries in these States have chosen 100 to 150 workers from their States for such a plea to the linguistic communities. These language campaign teams, headed by the party State organising secretaries, will work according to a plan.

The party has conducted an informal survey in about 80 Assembly constituencies to know the areas where the linguistic communities reside in a big number.

Accordingly, each of these linguistic campaign teams would camp in the areas inhabited by their linguistic communities.

For example, the Telugu-speaking campaign team from Andhra Pradesh will mainly tour Kolar, parts of Tumkur and Bangalore Rural districts. They would mainly undertake a door-to-door campaign in the areas of Telugu-speaking people and make an appeal to them in Telugu to support the BJP.

For the Hindi-speaking team from Rajasthan, the BJP local unit has chalked out a plan for campaigning in the business areas of Chickpet, Gandhinagar and other neighbouring constituencies which have a sizeable number of Hindi-speaking people.

The party thinks that in a cosmopolitan city such as Bangalore, the campaign by specific linguistic groups will have an impact.

BJP Bangalore city secretary A.L. Shivakumar, who is co-ordinating with these linguistic campaign groups, told The Hindu that the campaign by these specific groups would begin from April 28. Each group would camp in the State for 10 to 12 days. Already, the campaign team from Kerala has arrived in Bangalore and is planning its campaign in the areas which have a large number of Malayalam-speaking people. Will the Gujarat model click in Karnataka?


'09 polls: Will Cong, BJP swap roles?
The new constituency boundaries recently fixed by the Delimitation Commission have without intending to do so liberated the Congress--and its rivals--from the phantom of mid-term polls. The eight or so months the Election Commission of India (FCI) will need to graft the changes on to the Lok Sabha map, in effect, means about eight months without the big election.
<span style='color:red'>
How will the political parties use the reprieve? Looking at the Congress's current form, it should sink into further inaction. Even without the mid-term threat, the farthest approximate date of the 15th General Election is April-May 2009 - just a year away. But so far the Congress has betrayed none of the get-up-go visibility that is there in its rivals. Instead, there is about it a sense of resignation of an approaching defeat--so much at odds with its status as a ruling party with some achievements to its credit.</span>

Consider the three existing political formations, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, and the yet to concretize third alternative. Of the lot, the first looks a loser already and the second a winner already. The third alternative appears placed midway.

In truth, all three are shaky, and have much to thank the Election Commission for. The Congress has a theoretically speaking stable alliance but is so fuzzy about everything--its programme, its vision, its leader, its achievements and the state of its alliance--that it will surprise no one should the winner of 2004 transmogrify into the loser of 2009.

The BJP's dazzle and show hide the fact that it leads a rump alliance. The third alternative's possible partners are all very important and high-profile but how, when, and with what common programme? Whether the Samajwadi's Mulayam Singh-Amar Singh duo, the Telugu Desam's Chandrababu Naidu, the Indian National Lok Dal's Om Prakash Chautala and the Left parties will unite is hard to tell.
The BJP, always first into action, and constantly first with propaganda, has leapt ahead of the competition with some deft footwork. The Party revels in the meet the President, meet the Chief Election Commissioner, issue statements, announce yatras, unveil portraits, plan strategy sessions, hold Party meetings, hold NDA meetings et al. No one knows better than its peripatetic leaders how to cram the day with activity.
The BJP and the Congress must have opposite DNA codes. The Congress can barely wake up. The BJP is full of beans. When the latter was just out of power, it plunged heartily into factional fights. Now it is as heartily into cozy togetherness. Indeed, through the time the Congress has been in power, it is the BJP that has hogged the headlines--first for its many troubles, and lately, for the resolve with which it has fixed the troubles.

Today the Party that fought endlessly has a Prime Ministerial candidate behind whom the cadre stands in apparent solidarity, its leadership is gung ho after winning Gujarat and has the RSS as its moral guardian. Together the package is of a Party driven, united and focused on the 2009 big fight. The new zeal had L.K. Advani asserting recently that his Party would inflict upon the Congress its "worst defeat in history."

All very impressive but a lot of the buzz is premature, self-created and very BJP like. About a month ago, the Saffron Party spearheaded a meeting of the NDA, which hogged television and print news. And for good reason: The NDA constituents, overcoming their earlier reservations, had unanimously backed Advani for Prime Minister.

The problem was with the accompanying visuals. The NDA that posed with Advani seemed a sadly emaciated version of the NDA that captured over 300 seats in the 1999 Lok Sabha election. Only three alliance partners could be spotted in the picture --- the Akali Dal's Prakash Singh Badal, the Biju Janata Dal's Naveen Patnaik and the Janata Dal (United)'s Nitish Kumar.

Some allies like the Shiv Sena, were possibly out of the frame but still in the alliance. Even so, this was a vastly depleted stock compared to the NDA's 1999 magnificent peak. Not that this little matter stopped the BJP's beaming spokespersons. They claimed the presence at the meet of "all our allies except Mamata Banerjee" and got away with it, too, judging by the gushy media coverage of the event.

Since 2002, it has seen a virtual exodus from the NDA. Among those that have deserted the BJP are Farooq Abdullah's National Conference, Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Jan Shakti, Karunanidhi's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its State-allies, Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal, Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Congress and the Indian Federal Democratic Party.

The NDA's outside prop, Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam has broken away while the Trinamool Congress seems on the verge of quitting the alliance. All this not counting the many one-man State parties that habitually align with the ruling side.

The Congress too has had its share of alliance problems. Chandrasekhar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Vaiko's MDMK have exited the UPA. Mulayam's Samajwadi and Mayawati's BSP, which at one time lined up behind the Congress, are as good as not there thanks to the Congress' constant flip-flop between the two Parties.

Of the rest, Laloo's Rashtriya Janata Dal, Paswan's Lok Jan Shakti Party and Karunanidhi's DMK won the maximum seats they could in the 2004 election. The DMK alliance won 25 of the 25 seats it consented, the RJD - LJP alliance 26 of 34 seats it contested and Sharad Pawar's NCP is unlikely to be able to repeat its 22 seat tally. Besides, it can just tolerate its senior partner (Congress). The People's Democratic Party and the Congress are in an equally loveless relationship.

What this adds up to is a delicate coalition held together more by the glue of power than by chemistry and a sense of common purpose. The constituents, with their history of broken commitments and relationships, can head in any direction come 2009.

What should the Congress have done? What can it still do? Many things. First, ensure that the partners have a stake in staying the course. Second, dispel the confusion on the Prime Ministerial question. True, the Opposition needs to declare its Prime Ministerial candidate, not the ruling party. However, a ruling party that might change its leader without evident compulsions calls attention to its incapacity.

Specially, when that possible new leader is a young and untested member of the dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, it also calls attention to the Party's bankruptcy. Third, the Grand Dame of Politics needs to hit the streets, go to town on its achievements, re-jig the Party apparatus, send the best leaders there are to the States, and do so unitedly and cohesively.

But look at the Congress record. The UPA has put in place three legislations acclaimed as historic --- the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Right to information Act and the Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act. Each is in force defying internal sabotage. The ownership of the NREGA has moved from the Congress to the Opposition. On the foreign policy front too, the civil nuclear deal with the United States was a coup of sorts that the Congress disowned before the Left parties.

In 2004, Sonia Gandhi stitched up an alliance that went on to win. Today, the Congress cannot spring that surprise. As the ruling party, it must define its record in office. Instead, it is mired in confusion over whether or not to push Rahul Gandhi. Indira Gandhi earned her spurs; Sonia Gandhi has proven her worth. Rahul Gandhi cannot talk meritocracy and rely on aristocracy.

This is where the BJP comes in. The Party suffered a stunning defeat in May 2004, watched the NDA crumble and today has to virtually start from scratch. Yet its motivation seems all the greater for the challenge. Last month, it has re-engaged with the AIADMK leader Jayalalitha. A core team is also prospecting for other allies.

The road is far from easy. Parties such as the TDP, the LJP and the Trinamool Congress need the Muslim vote more than they need the Hindutva party. If the BJP fails, it will not be for want of trying.

The Congress should learn a lesson from the 2004 poll when the BJP's shrill propaganda led it to a crushing defeat. The Congress then was the tortoise to the BJP's hare. But today, the slow and steady tortoise must have a strategy to win the race.

TD Jagadesan, INFA

<!--emo&:ind--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/india.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='india.gif' /><!--endemo--> BJP's <span style='color:green'><span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>polltime Is and Ps

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

The BJP would highlight its "mature, experienced and visionary" leadership as against the "rudderless, ambiguous, confused and conflicting" leadership of the Congress-led UPA.

The party would have three Ps - Party, Principles and Personality - as the criteria for selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Naqvi, who is also the in-charge of the BJP's Central Election Management and Coordination War Room, said the process is on a war footing for selecting candidates based on the three Ps - their ability to win and strengthen the organisation right up to the booth level and take the party's principles, policies, programmes and the manifold achievements of its various State Governments to every door step.

Addressing activists and functionaries of the war room, Naqvi said the process is expected to be completed by June end. He was asserting that the three Is - Inflation, Internal Security and Incompetence - would be its main poll plank against the Congress-led UPA. Naqvi said, while the common man is reeling under the impact of skyrocketing prices, the Government has totally surrendered before terrorists, separatists and naxalites.

"The UPA Government has also been turning a blind eye to larger national interests in its dealings on crucial national issues, he said.

Describing the BJP-led NDA as the "natural alternative" to the Congress-led UPA, the senior leader said the performance of the previous NDA Government and the incumbent UPA Government would be the yardsticks by which the people of India would decide on the next Government. </span></span>

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