Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday suggested to his party colleagues to reach out to deprived sections among non-Hindus — such as backward Pasmandas — who were also beneficiaries of the government’s welfare schemes.
This came in the context of the BJP’s recent win in Muslim-dominated Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls.
Addressing the BJP’s national executive at Hyderabad Sunday, the PM also asked them not to mock at opposition parties that were in “terminal decline ” and rather learn from their mistakes.
Modi’s suggestion apart, the two-day brainstorming session by the party’s top brass turned out to be an old and familiar exercise, with leaders outdoing one another in praising Modi’s leadership and opposition bashing.
There were, however, broadly five takeaways from the two-day meeting of the BJP’S apex decision-making body:
First, BJP is here to stay and its leaders are convinced about it. BJP governments are “needed” at the Centre and in states for “30-40” years to make India “safe and prosperous”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in his speech at the national executive meeting Sunday.
About four years ago, Shah had told the national executive that the BJP would win the 2019 Lok Sabha election and then nobody “can dethrone” it from power “for the next 50 years”.
From 2018 to 2022, not much has obviously changed in the party’s goal, except that it is now looking to retain power in states, too, for long. To this end, Shah, the ruling party’s chief strategist said, it will end dynastic rule (of Mamata-Abhishek Banerjee) in West Bengal and (of KCR-KTR in) Telangana and also come to power in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha and other states where it’s in the opposition.
Second, even after eight years in power, the BJP seems to depend on its old strategy of targeting the opposition parties to project itself as the only alternative.
The opposition parties are India’s biggest problem as they have committed the “greatest sin” of “casteism and “dynasticism”, as Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, summing up Shah’s speech at the national executive meeting.
“Opposition leader (read Rahul Gandhi) facing corruption charges is spreading anarchy in the country. The opposition party is disintegrated. The Congressmen are fighting for democracy in the party but the family (the Gandhis) is not holding election for fear of losing their position,” Shah said. Over two days, BJP leaders kept targeting the opposition parties for playing “destructive”, with their “Modi-phobia” driving them to “obstruct” everything that the Modi has been trying to do for the welfare of the poor.
Modi holds the key
Third, Modi remains the BJP’s sole USP and so ‘Modi-nama’ remains its best electoral pitch even as it is looking to make forays into Telangana. So, one leader after another was told to make the same pitch at the Hyderabad meet: Modi has transformed India, freeing it from the ‘nasoor’ or ulcer of “casteism, dynasticism, appeasement politics and extreme regionalism”, which was there before 2014.
The PM has replaced it with “politics of development and performance” — 45 crore beneficiaries of Jan Dhan Yojana, 11 crore of Kisan Samman Nidhi, 80 crore got free ration during Covid and so on and so forth. Besides them, Sarma enumerated a host of other big achievements, including the integration of Jammu and Kashmir through the invalidation of its special status (Article 370), rollout of Agnipath, the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, and the abolition of Triple Talaq, to name a few.
Shah said that all global leaders “wait to hear” Modi’s views on important issues such as environment, solar energy and terrorism. Hailing the Supreme Court’s recent verdict in a Godhra riots case, he compared Modi to Lord Shiva, saying how the then Gujarat chief minister drank poison while bearing all pain and insult in the form of false allegations.
The fourth takeaway is that the BJP thinks that the state of the economy makes little electoral impact. And so, it will present a rosy picture of the economy to the people. On Saturday, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan emerged out of the national executive meeting to talk about “encouraging financial statistics” post-Covid — 8.7 per cent growth rate in FY22, increase in FDI and exports, et al. “In the next 25 years we will evolve as a Mahashakti (or Superpower),” he said.
Fifth but not the least, the BJP won’t abandon its Hindutva warriors even though it can’t defend them publicly at this juncture. It skirted queries about the apex court’s stinging observation about former party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s controversial comment about Prophet Muhammad. Asked if the party would “dump” Sharma, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Gujarat ke riot ke samaya mein, aise hi media question pucchata tha. Aur bees saal ke baad aise hi media ke baare mein Supreme Court ne tippani kiya (media used to ask similar questions during Gujarat riots and after 20 years, the Supreme Court made a similar comment).”
Though Sharma was “suspended” from the BJP primary membership following outrage in the Arab world, the party has chosen not to take any further action, leaving Sangh Parivar affiliates to defend her.
(Edited by Tony Rai)