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BJP Future - 6
Assertion of the underdog
Priya Sahgal and Aditi Pai
April 24, 2008

The emergence of backward leaders like Kalyan, Katiyar, Narendra Modi, and Uma Bharati was the result of a social engineering formula crafted by former party ideologue K.N. Govindacharya. For a while the idea of breaking the high-caste barrier had been playing on the leadership’s imagination.

Today, Narendra Modi is the only one who retains his clout and he has never played the caste card. Bharati blames the male-dominated Delhi leadership for her exit. Other grassroots leaders like Babulal Marandi in Jharkhand, Dilip Singh Judeo in Chhattisgarh, B.S. Koshiyari in Uttarakhand are complaining of being sidelined by the central leadership.

Like Bharati, Marandi quit the party after he was overlooked in favour of Arjun Munda, a Venkiah Naidu loyalist, for chief ministership in 2005.

Bharati too was made to give up chief ministership and has since been replaced by lightweight (though OBC) leaders who enjoy patronage of the centre. Another popular chief minister Vasundhara Raje has been saddled with her bete noire as party chief.

It is arguable whether Om Mathur, an RSS pracharak, has been sent to help her or to keep her in check. Even in the recent Rajya Sabha elections, the party nominated as many as five Brahmins even though only one had retired. Few of these are vote gatherers.

The party has not bothered to cultivate leadership amongst many dominant castes in north India. In Punjab, it depends on the Akalis.

In Haryana, Kishan Sangwan, the only Jat leader it has, is an export from the Indian National Lok Dal. In Uttar Pradesh not only is it losing its upper caste base but is making little attempt to reach out to the others.

The urban, upper class face of the party is the one that dominates the central leadership in Delhi. Careful to avoid such a charge, the party has gone in for cosmetic surgery and accommodated the right amount of OBC, ST and SC leaders at the party office.

But they are kept out of the decision-making process. Very few of these grassroots leaders have a say either at the party office or at Advani’s residence.

Let alone BJP, even the Sangh hierarchy is dominated by Maharashtrian brahmins. Most of the second rung leadership sits in the Rajya Sabha. Nowhere is the lack of a strong mass-based leadership more visible than in the Lok Sabha. Advani has no choice but to lead from the front.

Hardly surprising that he has now asked all the GenNext leaders to contest the next Lok Sabha elections. Each is now scouring the countryside for a “safe” seat.

At last, as the party gets ready for E-2009, it is realising the importance of leaders with mass base, even if they come from the wrong caste.

So a Yeddyurappa has become a potential chief minister, a Bharati may stage a dramatic homecoming, a Sushil Modi can drop an upper caste from the Cabinet and continue to be the deputy chief minister, and Munde can’t be taken for granted.

Even in a party like BJP, every underdog has his day.
<b>Don’t mind nuke test, if voted to power: Advani</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->If voted back to power, the BJP would not shy away from conducting a fresh round of nuclear tests, party leader and prime ministerial candidate LK Advani said on Sunday.

<b>“Our opposition to the nuclear deal and the Left’s position on it are totally different. We have no plan to oppose everything American as the Left is doing. We are opposed to the provisions of the Hyde Act, which literally prevents the country from carrying out another explosion,” Advani said.</b>
<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--> <!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo--> <!--emo&Confusedleepy--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sleepysmileyanim.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sleepysmileyanim.gif' /><!--endemo-->
How stupid is this?
<!--QuoteBegin-"Mudy"+-->QUOTE("Mudy")<!--QuoteEBegin-->How stupid is this?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
What do you find stupid in his statement? BJP has taken an pricipled stand on the civilian nuke deal unlike the communist parties.
These statements are irresponsible, even for local consumption. Why they should announce and create insecurity in business community. It effects investments. It will encourage external powers to create hurdles for them. If they are in power and then give these statements, that will make sense.
Mudy, If the 123 civilian nuke is approved then India forfeits its right to test nulcear weapon. This is the greatest danger to the nation when other countries which hate india and are hell bent on destroying it have not also said that are going to stop their nuclear weapon testing.

Advani had done the right thing by gently reminding manmohan singh that national interests cant be undermine when signing such deals. Advani is playing an constructive role as the opposition leader in lok sabha. Atleast advani has the guts to stand for india's interests.
US will do everything to keep BJP away from power. What Advani said will harm India because India don't need this version of deal. US is trying India to sign nuke before election. Now Unkle can either release some bogus information to defame BJP before election and push their own man of man Mohan Singh to sign it before election and enjoy funds and lecture in well paid lecture circuit in West.
US cant change the outcome of the lok sabha elections. They will have meekly accept that India will not forfeits it's right to test nuke weapons.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->US cant change the outcome of the lok sabha elections. They will have meekly accept that India will not forfeits it's right to test nuke weapons.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
When they can have its own man in PMO, oh ya they can do lot. They control Indian media and Babus. Thanks God for India's opposition parties and very little number of India loving babus, we are not in drain yet.
If US controlled mms, right now the deal would have been passed. But the reality is different. The 123 deal without the subsequent hyde act would be a great deal. If hyde act can be repealed there can be an all-party concensus for the deal to be passed by parliament.
Deal would have passed if India had weak opposition party. Moron Singh tried to hide lot of stuff but got caught, his own Press Secatary is known bika hua. When Moron Singh gets World Bank pension what else I have to say. When foreign media had free entry into South and North Block what else I can say, when Queen dearest friends get free pass from Indian Embassy in Argentina what else I can say.....
even then if someone believes mms is for India, they are just in denial.
Assertion of the underdog
Priya Sahgal and Aditi Pai
April 24, 2008

It was a defiant leap forward for a backward leader in a party known for its higher caste leadership. When BJP General Secretary Gopinath Munde revolted, few expected that the rebel would prevail and the high command would give in.

The central leadership that okayed the appointment of the Maharashtra veteran’s rival Madhu Chavan as chief of the party’s Mumbai unit was in for a rude shock when Munde got the support of over 65 legislators and 11 of the 12 MPs from the state threatened to resign.

Munde was summoned to Delhi, not for a reprimand but to be mollified. Within hours of his meeting with party supremo L.K. Advani and party President Rajnath Singh, Chavan was replaced by an old Pramod Mahajan loyalist, Gopal Shetty. Suddenly, the party grandees ensconced in Lutyens’ bungalows realised the veto power of those who rule the grassroots.

Maharashtra may be a story of the rebel who has won, but it’s not the only story of infighting in a party that was once famous for its discipline and inner-party democracy.

Come to Bihar. In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Ashwini Kumar Choubey was shifted from Urban Development to Public Health Engineering Depart-ment and two other upper caste leaders were dropped.

The high command saw it as a whim of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, an OBC leader and the party’s most popular face in the state.

Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Gopinath Munde in Delhi
Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Gopinath Munde in Delhi
What made it worse for Modi was the central leadership’s claim that he had mislead them about the reshuffle. Now, Choubey has provoked as many as 40 of the 55 MLAs to demand Modi’s ouster.

In the south, the party is fighting two battles: one for the state of Karnataka and one within. Popular Lingayat leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, a grassroots politician, is not the favourite of the party’s Delhi durbar, which prefers his English-speaking Brahmin rival Ananth Kumar.

Ever since 1999 the Yeddyurappa camp has been asking BJP to name him the chief ministerial candidate while Kumar has been advocating the principle of “collective leadership”.

Now, sensing victory, the central leadership has decided to project Yeddyurappa as its chief minister. Not only does he have the support of the powerful Lingayat community, he also has the sympathy card working for him.

However, it does not mean that Kumar is out of the reckoning. Recently appointed secretary of the election management committee and a member of the central election committee, he continues to play a key role.

These states are symptomatic of a larger churning within BJP where grassroots leaders with a mass base are facing opposition from an armchair central leadership.

Munde’s clash was with state President Nitin Gadkari who is said to have the tacit support of the central leadership. After his brother-in-law Mahajan’s death Munde has been marginalised in state politics.

Between them the Mahajan-Munde duo had worked out a formidable Brahmin-OBC combination in Maharashtra. Since then the link has been broken.

Before leaving for Delhi, Munde had said in Aurangabad, “Some people have turned the party into a kitchen cabinet and are treating it like their personal fiefdom.

Democratic ways have become extinct.” Both Advani and Rajnath have surrounded themselves with yes men with little understanding of mass politics.

While Advani’s team has a savvy, English-speaking drawing room appeal, Rajnath’s natural inclination is towards the band of Sangh leaders deputed for party work. It would be difficult to find a grassroots leader in either of the teams.

The party stereotype seems to be intact. Known traditionally as the party of Banias and Brahmins, BJP tends to favour the aspirations of its urban centric upper-caste base. Says a party functionary from Uttar Pradesh, “If you are a Brahmin, Vaishya or Thakur you always have the upper hand. Leaders of the rest of the communities are part of ‘adjustment’, not of the ‘establishment’.”

BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh
BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh
Mass-leaders like Kalyan Singh, who won a state for BJP for the first time in 1991, and Vinay Katiyar, who was instrumental in giving the state unit a new identity in the 1990s, are nowhere to be seen now. They may have been accommodated at the headquarters on Ashoka Road in Delhi but that is just part of the “adjustment” plan.

Kalyan has not been given any major responsibility and, instead, has been blamed for the poor show in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year.

Munde too was brought to the centre as general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, to make life more comfortable for Gadkari.
Vaidya talks of Cong-BJP govt.

Nagpur/New Delhi (PTI): Senior RSS ideologue M G Vaidya has suggested Congress and BJP should come together to form a government at the Centre with mutual co-operation even as Congress dismissed the idea as "unrealistic" while BJP termed it as "exciting".

Vaidya in his weekly column in a local Marathi daily 'Tarun Bharat' on Sunday said he felt the need for a combination at the Centre.

Vaidya had floated the concept a few days back in the same column and drew both appreciation and criticism.

He wrote that his views on Congress-BJP coming together to share power in Delhi was endorsed recently by senior NCP leader and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangama.

Vaidya recalled his remarks in the wake of such an experiment followed in Germany where two major political parties have formed the government.

Besides, Congress and BJP, only the communists parties (CPI and CPI-M) have the same national perspective and vision while the other remaining political parties be it Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have confined themselves to regionalism.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said "it's is not a realistic idea and it's not happening".

"The RSS propaganda has always been to confuse issues and to project.....something which is totally false as the truty."

BJP spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad said the "idea is exciting but the point is: is Congress a political party or a family concern? That is a serious problem where of late the commitment the civilizational heritage of Congress has been overpowered by commitment of family and sycophancy. That is the barrier".

<!--emo&:ind--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/india.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='india.gif' /><!--endemo--> BJP hangs on to Patil, demands apology for ‘lying’
24 May, 2008, 0228 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The BJP is unwilling to let home minister Shivraj Patil off the hook for his statements on camps for illegal immigrants and Afzal and Sarabjit Singh.

The party has demanded that Mr Shivraj Patil apologise for “lying” on the issue of detention centres for illegal immigrants and for “equating” Sarabjit Singh with Mohamed Afzal “Guru”. Going a step further, the party has demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh take action against Mr Patil, in the event the home minister fails to apologise. It has also said that that “prime minister owes an explanation to the nation” on both these counts.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>RSS all the way </b>
Lookback: Arun Lakshman
The stunning victory of the BJP in Karnataka has established the saffron party as a firm player in the region. Though it is a fact that each State has its own political dynamics and the BJP makes for little in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, <b>it is equally true that the Karnataka miracle would psychologically impact the politics of the rest of the region</b>

On February 11, 2006, Thinkpad, the predecessor of Saturday Special had covered the prospects of a "saffron surge" south of the Vindhyas on the back of the formation of a BJP-inclusive Government in Karnataka. Two years and four months later this week, we are finally in a position to take the phenomenon for granted. The stunning victory of the BJP in the three-way Karnataka contest, has established the saffron party as a firm player in the region. Though it is a fact that each State has its own political dynamics and the BJP makes for little in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it is equally true that the Karnataka miracle would psychologically impact the politics of the rest of the region.

Tarun Vijay, for years the editor of the RSS mouthpiece, Panchajanya, (see Main Article) rhetorically recreates the ambience of pre-medieval Karnataka to stress his point that the arrival of the lotus was pre-destined. KN Govindacharya (The Other Voice), warns that the BJP-RSS bonhomie may not last once the BJP tastes power and is forced to compromise with the very forces that are at variance with its puritanical beliefs.

Years back, the then Lok Sabha MP from Vadakara, Kerala, KP Unnikrishnan, said at a Press conference: <b>"When a string is pulled from Nagpur, Advani comes up and when another string is pulled Vajpayee moves up and this is the BJP." </b>He was referring to the popular perception that held that Nagpur was the southern headquarters of the saffron brigade.

The context in which Unnikrishnan spoke was quite controversial. The Congress and the Muslim League had fielded a common candidate and the BJP supported him against Unnikrishnan, who was then a sitting MP for five terms as well as Communications Minster in the VP Singh Government. Unnikrishnan used the BJP's support to warn the Muslims not to back the opposition candidate, M Ratnasingh, who was an RSS man.

<b>The RSS-BJP linkage has become more relevant today after the Karnataka election when we see the BJP forming a Government in the State on its own, thanks to the sweat and toil of its dedicated cadre and leaders. It was leaders like Krishnappaji who was the Kshetriya Pracharak of the RSS and the former Akhil Bharateeya Sarkarayvahak, HV Sheshadri, who was also from the State, who were instrumental in giving the Hindutva movement a base in the State.</b>

<b>The hard work of these leaders became the building blocks of the Hindutva movement in the State and with issues like the Hubli Idgah coming up, it became clear to the people of the State that it was the RSS and its subsidiaries that transformed the quality of the State's politics. It was crystal clear that years of hard work put in by the RSS in building up the Hindutva ideology and the grassroot activities gave the BJP the booth-level sincere worker who is so essential for any party dreaming to combat the Congress. </b>

Their systematic, day-to-day work through the Sangh shakhas is the bedrock of the party on which it based its forward movement in the State. In many parts of Kerala that are adjacent to Karnataka, the BJP enjoys the advantage of contiguity. This is reflected in the good results posted by the BJP in the Manjeswar Assembly seat in Kasargod district, where it routinely finishes second to the Muslim League. Political analysts and special branch police officers have already gone on record that the Left parties shift their votes to the Muslim League once it becomes certain that the BJP is on the verge of victory in this constituency, thereby depriving the BJP of a chance to open its account in the State Assembly.

In Tamil Nadu, the BJP won three Lok Sabha seats in a bipolar political environment and the Nagercoil seat was won by the BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan who later went on to become a Minister in the Vajpayee Government. Nagercoil, which is near Thiruvananthapuram, has a good Hindutva base, which was built by the hard and step by step organisational work of the RSS.

<b>It may be recalled that a long struggle carried out by the Hindutva forces under the leadership of the RSS in Kanyakumari, which is near Nagercoil, to protect the existence of the Kanyakumari temple against the intrusion by a section of Christian missionaries who wanted the place to be named after Mother Mary.</b>

The RSS' struggle yielded favourable results and the Kanyakumari temple was prevented from becoming a Christian shrine. These facts make it clear that the organisational and cultural activities carried out by the dedicated cadre of the Sangh, has resulted in the growth of the BJP. In other words, the whole organisational system of the BJP revolves around the RSS.

In Kerala, it is only the BJP leaders with a RSS background who have grassroot support, whereas the others don't get this kind of support as the RSS cadre don't consider them part of the movement. The RSS shakhas act as a major source of the day-to-day contact among the cadre, making the organisation easier to implement its decisions. Also, the RSS has several programmes round the year which results in the cadre functioning like a well-oiled machine for the welfare of the country.
-- The writer is Managing Editor, The Pioneer, Kochi
HUM HINDUSTANI: Southern comfort for BJP —J Sri Raman

The Jan Sangh may have started off as the party of refugees, but the Sangh and the BJP grew subsequently in the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustani region as a political party active on several fronts. In the South, however, the BJP made its debut as a socially divisive force

On May 25, Narendra Modi sounded even more triumphant than he did six months before. On December 23 last, he had won Gujarat a third time for his Bharatiya Janata Party. This time, the party had conquered the southern state of Karnataka, winning yet another in a series of state assembly elections.

Proclaimed Modi: “Karnataka will not only be a gateway for us to the South, but a highway to New Delhi.” The assumptions behind that statement may be obvious, but deserve to be discussed nevertheless.

The first and foremost assumption is that the ballot won in a southern state was a breakthrough, both geographical and historical, for the BJP. According to conventional political wisdom, the region to the south of the Vindhya mountain range was not only free from the Far Right party but was somehow resistant to the BJP’s well-known blandishments. The magnified myth was that the sacred territory — comprising the mainstream states of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala — was out of bounds for the BJP and the parivar (the Far Right “family”).

The second assumption is that, since the region is the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle, the Karnataka conquest is a major step towards the consolidation of the BJP as a national party and as a contender for all-India power.

Both assumptions are egregiously erroneous.

It was never true that the South could possibly have no space for the BJP with its “Hindi-Hindu-Hindustani” image. The region, of course, was not an immediate victim of Partition and all the inhumanity that accompanied it. Forces of communal politics could find and have found ways of striking roots in the four states, even if the BJP or its parent Jan Sangh could not develop a large enough legislative presence here for long years.

The real hurdle for the BJP and the parivar in the region lay in its pioneering social reform movements — of, by and for the intermediate and lower castes. This was because it was the upper castes that identified with the Far Right more than others and they did so all the more under threat to their dominance from the other castes.

The empowerment of the intermediate castes, ironically, however, eased this problem for the party and the parivar. The empowerment spelt also an end to the social reform movements in their true spirits. The newly victorious regional forces, with no ideology to carry them beyond the caste aspirations, found it no problem at all to make peace with the Far Right and even to enter into political pacts with them. The “Dravidian” parties of Tamilnadu, for example, deriving their power from remembered wrongs, suffered at the hands of forces the Far Right represents, were all power-sharing partners of BJP-led governments of the past in New Delhi.

The political collaboration was facilitated by its social correlative, with the reform movements not having left even meaningful relics. The Jan Sangh may have started off as the party of refugees, but the Sangh and the BJP grew subsequently in the Hindi-Hindu-Hindustani region as a political party active on several fronts. In the South, however, the BJP made its debut as a socially divisive force and has striven to build a constituency of communalism more than anything else.

This is particularly true of Karnataka. Starting with agitations aimed at hoisting the “national tricolour flags” atop dargahs, the party went on, while sharing power as a partner pre-election state government, to launch a tirade and a textbook offensive against the heritage of Tipu Sultan, of whom Karnataka and the country were proud as freedom fighter until the other day.

The BJP’s apologists now claim that the party refrained from raising “Hindutva” issues in the run-up to the elections. The party’s record made it unnecessary for it to do so in order to retain its communal constituency, even as it tried to win over uncommitted sections of voters. What was more notable was the way it added a Shiva Sena-type chauvinism to its communal plank, targeting the Tamil minority in the state over a water-sharing issue with neighbouring Tamilnadu, even while the party’s All-India leadership was voicing nationalist outrage at the Sena’s war on north Indians in Maharashtra.

The Karnataka victory has made BJP’s shadow Prime Minister Lal Krishna wax eloquent about the party’s prospects of winning a parliamentary majority in general elections due next year. We must wait to see whether a sum of regionalist victories as in Gujarat and Karnataka will spell undivided power in the Centre.

What is clear, meanwhile, is the role being played by Congress, in the BJP’s political return after its electoral rout in 2004. In Gujarat and other states, Congress has helped the BJP considerably by refusing to fight the politics of communalism frontally. Fascism, of course, is an attempt among other things, to deflect attention from the people’s real issues. From this, however, it does not follow that Congress and its avowedly secular allies should take up people’s issues only during the polls — and only in order to avoid the issues of communal fascism.

That will be no way to beat the BJP back, whether in the South or the North or any other region of India.

The writer is a journalist based in Chennai, India. A peace activist, he is also the author of a sheaf of poems titled ‘At Gunpoint’

June 15, 2008

Page: 2/41

Home > 2008 Issues > June 15, 2008

Interview of the week

“Karnataka is a landmark, it marks our entry into south and rejection of UPA by voters”—Arun Jaitley

“I think there are challenging moments. In Punjab, for example, it was a challenging moment when a religious sect issued an appeal in favour of the Congress. We spoke to the leaders of the sect and explained to them and tried to immune our party from the adverse consequences.”

When the possibility and winnability prospects are very high, there are a number of people who want to become candidates. Then it has to be explained to others that the tickets can only be given on the criterion of loyalty and winnability. Most people agree, some don’t.

“I believe since traditional forms of campaigning have been prohibited by the Election Commission and various state governments, the role of money has gone up in the elections.”

BJP General Secretary Shri Arun Jaitley has won accolades for masterminding the party’s strategy to win elections in many states, some of which were very challenging and crucial, like Punjab, Gujarat and lately, Karnataka. He has emerged as an ace strategist of the party to weather the storm in adverse situation. The Karnataka victory has given a new turn to the electoral history of the country. It has infused an added enthusiasm, zeal and confidence in the minds of BJP karyakartas to gird up their loins for the next round of elections in the five assembly elections in J&K, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh before the end of the year and then the battle royal for the Lok Sabha in 2009. He will certainly have a crucial role to play in working out the party’s electoral strategy for the coming elections.

Shri Arun Jaitley spoke to Organiser representative Amba Charan Vashishth on the sidelines of the BJP’s national executive meeting on June 2 in Delhi. Excerpts:

First, let us congratulate you on the latest win for BJP in Karnataka where you were the main strategist of the party.

Thank you very much for congratulating me. I think it is my party and its workers who deserve the entire credit. Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa who led the campaign deserves to be congratulated for this performance. The State party deserves to be congratulated for this.

How do you see the result?
I see this result as a landmark for the BJP. It marks our entry into a state south of Vindhyas. At the national level, it is further an expression of no confidence in the Congress rule.

It is perhaps the fourth state in a row after Punjab, Gujarat and Bihar where you were put in charge of the party election campaign and the party won. What is the secret of success?
I have been incharge of several states but I don’t claim any credit for the success of the party in the elections held in states like Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh. The credit goes to the lakhs of workers of the party.

As there are indications of BJP winning a poll in a state, there is a flood of aspirants for party nomination. How do you manage the individual ambitions of so many applicants?
When the possibility and winnability prospects are very high, there are a number of people who want to become candidates. Then it has to be explained to others that the tickets can only be given on the criterion of loyalty and winnability. Most people agree, some don’t.

There can be no uniform election strategy in every state as the political and electoral environment in every state is not the same. How do you plan it?
There is no uniform electoral strategy in each case and each state. I think the first important thing is to study the political environment. We have to study the electoral history of the state. We have then to decide whether there is need to have political alliances in the state or not. It is only after you have decided it that the issues which help us and which hurt the opponents have to be highlighted and then there has to be a concentration on those issues. If personalities are capable of helping the campaign, we project the personalities adequately so that they can pull the campaign.

Could you tell us what was the most challenging situation you had to face in each state and how did you tackle it?
I think there are challenging moments. In Punjab, for example, it was a challenging moment when a religious sect issued an appeal in favour of the Congress. We spoke to the leaders of the sect and explained to them and tried to immune our party from the adverse consequences.

It was a challenging situation in the 2002 elections in Gujarat when the media was very hostile to us. We tried then to communicate directly to the people rather than through the media in view of their attitude in the state.

What is common in working out an electoral strategy in a state?
I think there is no uniform strategy which is required. Election contesting is a political common sense. We’ve to assess the reality of the party and select the best campaign that helps us the most.

Money makes the political and electoral mare go. How far is it correct?
I think the money’s role in elections is on the increase. It’s unfortunate. I believe since traditional forms of campaigning have been prohibited by the Election Commission and various state governments, the role of money has gone up in the elections.

Muscle power is equally in vogue. How do you combat it?
It is not correct that muscle power is equally in vogue at all the places. In some places it has an impact and at other places it is counterproductive.

Model Code of Conduct for political parties comes into force the moment election schedule is announced for a state. It has no legal or constitutional sanction. That is why the tendency towards its violation is on the rise and the show-cause notices sent by EC have little impact as hardly anyone has been punished so far. How do you look at the phenomenon?
I think the Election Commission has been successful in preventing booth capturing through the implementation of Model Code of Conduct. I am one of those who believe that the Model Code of Conduct has a constitutional sanction. It comes within the jurisdiction of Election Commission under Article 354 but I am a little critical of the Election Commission when it comes to restraining conventional and traditional forms of campaign which is a communication of the parties and the candidates with the people.

Can you suggest any electoral reforms to make the elections more free and fair to make it truly representative of the will of the people?
In order to make elections free and fair compared to what they are, I think the traditional form of campaign, such as pamphlets, banners and some hoardings, easy access to public rallies should be allowed. It is also a process through which political leadership can develop and get more acceptability.

What is the lesson you draw from your experience as an election strategist for BJP?
My experience has been that the election contesting is on the basis of political common sense. There are no fixed formulas and one should stick to that.

How far, in your opinion, are the results in Karnataka going to have an impact on the elections to assemblies in four states by the end of the year and then in 2009 Lok Sabha elections?
Karnataka results will have an impact on the elections of state assemblies and the national elections. It places BJP as a frontrunner for these elections. Its impact on the political environment is such that the Congress is losing a series of elections and the BJP and its allies are gaining a large number of them.

Don’t you think frequent elections are sapping the enthusiasm of the common voter to exercise his right to franchise? What should be done to remedy the situation and inspire greater voting percentage?
I don’t think the enthusiasm of voters is declining. Elections are a festival of democracy. We’ve seen up to 60 to 70 per cent polling in most states which have gone to polls.

The CEC Shri N. Gopalaswamy will retire in April 2009 and, if the electoral process for the next elections to Lok Sabha is not completed by April 2009, a part of the voting and the final results may be out only after the new CEC is in office. What would be the reaction of your party to that situation?
We have already filed a petition for the removal of one of the members of the Election Commission. The petition is pending with the Chief Election Commissioner. I hope that the constitutional process in this regard will be expedited.

The UPA government is sitting over the hanging of Parliament attack case main convict Mohammad Afzal Guru sentenced to death and whose sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court more than two years back. Does the conduct of UPA government not amount to sitting judgement over the SC verdict?
There is a growing feeling in the country that the execution of Afzal Guru is being deliberately delayed because the Congress wants to use the war against terror by displaying its softness and converting it into a vote bank politics.

Karnataka Newsletter
<b>Only BJP increased vote percentage in Karnataka</b>
From Bhavani Shankar in Bangalore

BANGALORE: The BJP in Karnataka got a positive vote in the just concluded Assembly elections, states a report prepared by the state unit of BJP. It was submitted to the party’s national executive committee which commenced its two-day session from June 1.

“After the collapse of the BJP-Janata Dal (S) coalition government in November 2006, the people always had the option to choose Congress. The Janata Dal (S) had already fallen in the eyes of the people. That they chose the BJP, means they have made a positive choice,” states the report submitted by the state unit president, D.V. Sadananda Gowda to the national executive.

Explaining how the party could make a qualitative difference in the mind-set of the people to make a positive ambience for the party, the report stated, “The BJP could package neatly its electoral strategy by combining three factors, (i) the BJP can deliver the goods if voted to power, on the basis of the earlier remarkable performance of Shri Yeddyurappa and his team, (ii) dignified behaviour of the ministers, leaders and cadres, (iii) only the BJP can provide a stable government. Our argument that the Congress-kind of stability has led to stagnancy was well taken. All these points enabled the people to make a positive choice in our favour.”

The report further states that the betrayal by the JD(S) was a crucial contributory factor. “It would be unfair to the decades of service and sacrifice of thousands of party workers, if we attribute our victory only to the betrayal by JD(S). The issue of betrayal gave a cutting edge to our campaign. We took a conscious stand that betrayal is nothing but absence of morality in public life and not just transfer of power, per se. This caught the imagination of both the urban-based intelligentsia and the rural populace,” the report stated.

However, in a clever move, the BJP had not raised the betrayal issue strongly during the first phase of the elections in the Vokkaliga-dominated Old Mysore region, fearing the backlash from this community. It, however, took the betrayal issue to the peak in the third phase of the polls where it reaped maximum benefit.

The report further states that the BJP got its electoral arithmetic and social chemistry right with a proportionate balance of all sections of society represented in the choice of candidates. “Admitting leaders with stature, credibility and strong social roots enabled the party to expand, socially and geographically. The organisational machinery was kept well-oiled which played a vital role in fighting the electoral battle,” the report stated.

The report also mentions of its inability to open its legislative account in five districts namely, Chamarajanagar, Ramanagara, Hassan, Mandya and Chikkaballapur, due to clear polarisation of politics between Congress and the Janata Dal (S).
Karuna asks people not to let BJP regain power at the Centre


Against the backdrop of a resurgent BJP after a series of electoral victories, DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today asked the people to "break the confidence" of the saffron party to regain power at the Centre.

"A few victories for them (BJP) here and there will make them feel confident on recapturing power at the Centre but we should break that confidence", he said without naming BJP and its recent victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka assembly elections.

"We should ensure a non-communal government in the country that would keep up secularism. Let not those dividing the country in the name of religion come to power, as it does not augur well for the country, especially its secular ethos," he said in his birthday felicitation function, attended by various national leaders, here.

Karunanidhi asked the people to "ensure that communal forces did not come to power in the next year's Parliamentary elections.

Recalling his association with BJP-led NDA, Karunanidhi said he had allied with them in the hope that despite their pro-Hindu policies, the party would not disturb secularism.

"But there were incidents later which made me come out of the alliance," he said while recalling his later association with the Congress-led UPA for 2004 Parliamentary elections.

Karunanidhi also criticised the saffron party for passing a resolution dubbing as a "negative" step the turning of Nepal, previously a Hindu country, into a secular republic, after the Maoists swept the recent elections.

"It is the people's verdict which is most supreme," he said.

On the reservation issue, Karunanidhi said struggle and fight for social justice and equity was not yet over and called for an end to the struggle by finding proper solutions.

Recalling his reversal of decision not to celebrate his birthday, he said the earlier decision was made by him seeing the "problems being faced by the country, including terrorism," but later gave the go ahead respecting his partymen's desire.

Earlier, various leaders heaped encomiums on the DMK leader and wished him a longer life to serve the public.

In a letter, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, recalled "working together with" Karunanidhi after the Congress-led UPA came to power in 2004.

"We have looked up to you as senior most leader for guidance, advise and good governance," she said in the letter which was read out by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherji.

In his address, Mukherji said that Karunanidhi fought for social justice and thus redefined human values.

CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, while flaying the "communal forces" in the country, recalled the demolition of Babri Mosque as an "irreparable damage to secularism," and promised to fight the communal forces under Karunanidhi.

Union Ministers Anbumani Ramadoss, Praful Patel, TR Baalu and Raghuvansh prasad singh, CPI national secretary D Raja and others spoke on the occasion.

June 15, 2008

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Open Forum

BJP should win Centre
By Dr Karan Thakur

Having won Karnataka, the BJP must now set its sight on the general elections which are due in 2009. Given the stinging setback suffered by the Congress, it is unlikely that they will call for early elections, wanting instead to bide their time in power.

While the BJP will rightly bask in the glory of the Karnataka win, it must keep in mind the next state elections due in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. All three have an incumbent BJP government and all three have issues that may work against them.

The BJP is riding high after making a historic foray into the South of the country with a remarkable win in Karnataka. The BJP’s victory is not only momentous for the numbers it won or for its maiden foray into Southern India, it is momentous for the agenda that was used by the party to come to power. The BJP’s victories have often been attributed to either the use of Hindutva or on the basis of cashing in on an anti-incumbency vote. By winning Karnataka, the people of the state have reposed faith in a leadership that was wronged and needed a clear mandate to deliver on issues of development and overall welfare of the state. The charge of igniting religious fervour or anti-incumbency cannot gain currency in these elections given how the campaign panned out and considering the fact that the BJP was a partner in the previous government with the JD(S).

The BJP has now gained a foot in the door in the politics of South India and it has an opportunity to now deliver on what the Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani calls the ‘GDP mantra’—growth, development and protection (security) for all. Having won Karnataka, the BJP must now set its sight on the general elections which are due in 2009. Given the stinging setback suffered by the Congress, it is unlikely that they will call for early elections, wanting instead to bide their time in power. Also, given the surrender of national and international policy at the behest of UPA allies and the Left, the Congress has proved that it is unlikely to rock the UPA boat to carry forward contentious legislation or foreign policy initiatives.

While the BJP will rightly bask in the glory of the Karnataka win, it must keep in mind the next state elections due in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. All three have an incumbent BJP government and all three have issues that may work against them. In all three states the ‘GDP mantra’ along with local issues will need to be fully deployed for the BJP to have any chances of retaining power. But beyond that the BJP must now formulate a strategy for the general elections due in 2009.

The current UPA dispensation is biding away its time with not much to show in terms of achievements. The Congress will want to claim for programmes like the NREGA and the RTI, but predictably, all other allies in the UPA too will want to walk away with some credit for these initiatives, thereby blunting any electoral advantages to the Congress per se. Rising prices and the precarious state of the world economy will certainly put pressure on the government to prove its middle class credentials at the time of elections. Further, the Congress will face an uphill task on the farmers loan waiver declared in this budget, as it seems unfeasible that a scheme declared in March of this year will have any significance a year from now, when general elections are due.

Given these dynamics and the manner in which the Congress leadership in the government has capitulated to the demands of its allies, the BJP must base its general election manifesto on change. A change from the status quoits nature of the UPA. A change from capitulation. A change from the manner in which vote bank politics guides internal security. A change from the manner in which the office of Prime Minister is not the most powerful political position in the country. A change from the manner in which coalition dharma has come to mean giving in to coalition partners. A change from the manner with which issues like secularism and respect of religion are defined. A change from a manner in which foreign policy is not dictated by the nation’s best interests but on who can shout the loudest in opposition to government policy. A change from the manner with which terrorism and internal security has been given a shoddy Laissez Faire attitude.

The BJP must offer the alternative to the shortcomings of the UPA government and how it can change the drift we see in national governance. The BJP must fall back on its record as the NDA to act as a guide for where they intend to take their country. The BJP was the first party to declare their prime ministerial candidate if the NDA were to come back to power in 2009. By reposing their faith in Shri L.K. Advani, they have the first mover advantage which will increasingly put pressure on the UPA to declare their candidate. The Congress will be wary of not declaring their prime ministerial aspirant given how it hurt them in Karnataka where not projecting a Chief Ministerial candidate hurt the party immensely. Also, by projecting Shri Advani as its prime ministerial candidate, the BJP has removed any question on the leadership issue. Contrast that to the UPA, where Congress president is always full of praises for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but remains non-committal whether he will be their party’s prime ministerial candidate next year.

The BJP currently enjoys tremendous momentum given their election triumph in Karnataka that follows the successes of Gujarat, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It is incumbent on them to not cede this momentum for the next fights in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will be an uphill battle. The people of India need to know the message of change that the BJP proposes to bring before it can give them another shot at heading the government at the Centre.

The writer Dr Karan Thakur doesnt get it. Karnataka was won by BJP due to the hardwork of the party members and putting the JDS issue as a lack of morals in public life- sort of good governance. To attribute the victory to the JDS betrayal is not right.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->...By winning Karnataka, <b>the people of the state have reposed faith in a leadership that was wronged</b> and needed a clear mandate to deliver on issues of development and overall welfare of the state.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

The first part was a partial contributor and not the main contributor. To replicate at national level good governance has to be brought to the fore.

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