With L K Advani deciding to play a privotal role in the selection of the party’s Lok Sabha candidates unlike 2004, the stage is set for the BJP supremo’s projection as the “man who can deliver” in the 2009 General Elections.
Insisting that the Lok Sabha candidates be finalised by January 2009, Advani has given clear indications of being more assertive in party affairs. The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has also defined his agenda for the next 120 days in the run-up to the general election and plans are afoot for his intensive touring of at least 200 Lok Sabha constituencies once the party candidates are finalised in January 2009.
After intensive deliberations, it has been decided that tickets for the Lok Sabha would be given on the basis of the winnability of the candidate, including his or her potential to nurture the constituency for the next five years, and clean past record. Selection of candidates on the basis of preferences of senior party leaders or on the basis of sundry surveys as in the past elections would be avoided this time. Advani made this loud and clear at the core committee meeting, attended also by the state RSS leadership, in Shimla on Monday.
Secondly, there is serious concern within the BJP over the ability of some of its spokespersons to articulate the party position on critical issues. This includes the party position on the embarrassing theft at the BJP headquarters in Delhi. It is a fact that till Advani discussed the response with Rajnath and Jaitley on Tuesday, party spokesmen were running for cover on the matter. Advani made it clear that the party needed to get to the bottom of the unsavoury affair and that treasurer Ramdas Agarwal was responsible for this lapse. The message has gone out that party policies are to be elucidated only by a select few.
Thirdly, there is clear realisation with the BJP that the core constituents of the NDA would be the Janata Dal (U), Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Biju Janata Dal, with pre-poll tie-ups being firmed up with the Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, Lok Dal in Haryana and Rashtriya Lok Dal in UP.
The leadership believes that political alliances in south would be sewed up only after the Lok Sabha results and the electoral performance of the NDA. The BJP high command finds hardly any political truck with Mayawati post-2009 elections as the Uttar Pradesh CM is too mercurial to handle.
With the reverse count to the general election having already started, Advani would also hit at the weak leadership of the UPA in the context of Mumbai 26/11.
Rather than get carried away by the young India campaign orchestrated by the Congress for Rahul Gandhi, the party intends projecting Advani as a strong leader who is committed to make the country more secure. This theme will be conveyed by Advani himself in the whirl-wind campaign that starts in February.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines