Debating India

No blame game for LS defeat: Naidu

Tuesday 22 June 2004

MUMBAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership on Tuesday launched a soul-searching conclave in Mumbai, with an attempt to stem divides following its election debacle and seek a new direction.

The three-day conclave of the party’s newly constituted national executive, its top think tank, began at the plush Hotel Renaissance, amid criticism of the luxurious settings for introspection by a party known for its obsession with simplicity.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani and BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu led the ceremonies by lighting a ceremonial lamp.

Naidu then exhorted party leaders to accept collective responsibility for the defeat in the April-May national elections.

"We have to take collective responsibility for not winning the Lok Sabha elections. We cannot have a situation of a blame game," said Naidu during his inaugural address.

Outlining the party’s priorities as well as criticising rivals in the opening speech, Naidu described as "zero secularism" the support extended by other political parties for Ishrat Jehan - a Mumbai girl allegedly involved in a terrorist plan to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and gunned down by Gujarat police.

The BJP chief criticised Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator Vasant Davakhare for granting Rs 100,000 to Ishrat’s bereaved family, even before the investigations were completed into her terror links.

Setting the tone for a post mortem of the poll defeat and a road map for the future, especially the preparations for assembly elections in five states including Maharashtra, Naidu stressed the need for the emergence of young leaders.

Former union ministers Jaswant Singh, Ram Naik and Sahib Singh Verma were among the scores of top party leaders, who arrived Tuesday for the leadership meet.

Conspicuous by his absence was former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who had reportedly claimed ill health to counter speculations of his strong protest against Narendra Modi.

Though the party asserted again and again that Modi’s removal was not on its agenda, the issue was clearly casting a shadow on the meet days after Vajpayee cited the 2002 Gujarat communal violence as one of the reasons for the BJP’s poll defeat.

Though the BJP parliamentary board Sunday rejected Modi’s removal for his role in the violence and its impact on the national poll verdict, Keshubhai Patel’s absence redirected focus on the growing dissidence against Modi in Gujarat.

Mahajan had on Monday asserted that Gujarat would not be on the agenda of the conclave.

"The Gujarat issue is over. We have discussed it in the Parliamentary Board meeting in New Delhi and the party President said the matter was over as of now," he said.

Mahajan added that the issue had full consent of Vajpayee, but said, "If Vajpayee wishes to raise the Modi issue, he is free to do so. The meeting is a democratic forum."

Gujarat will be discussed along with other states, when BJP leaders from different states put forth reasons for the party’s defeat, which will be followed by the presentation of a plan for a complete revival and rebuilding of the party.

The plan is outlined in a 10-page document drafted by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, entitled "The Task Ahead".

This is the first meeting of the newly constituted national executive after the BJP’s poll debacle.

Top BJP leaders converged for the conclave at Powai, a suburb of Mumbai situated around the Powai Lake, famed as the location of the premier Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai. The BJP national executive has 199 members.

In the vicinity of the venue are religious places such as a Hindu Shivling and the Trinity Church, one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in Mumbai.

The meet will also discuss forthcoming assembly elections in five states including Maharashtra at the end of this year and early next year.

The BJP will also critically analyse the performance of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).


in The Times of India, Tuesday, June 22, 2004.

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0