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BJP to try putting its house in order

By Harmeet Shah Singh in Dehra Dun
September 07, 2006 12:06 IST
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Under the shadow of the Jharkhand crisis, which is being blamed on internal feuds, the Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive meeting will get underway on Thursday.

The aim is to rework the Hindutva card ahead of Assembly elections in several states, and to discuss ways to overcome a myriad of challenges from within the party.  

In an indication of the party's attempt to reach out to its core Sangh vote-block, BJP leaders L K Advani and Rajnath Singh sang the Vande Mataram in its entirety, including portions opposed by the Muslim League seven decades ago, to mark the centenary of its adoption.

But the three-day national executive, party insiders say, will be more than a just a 'saffron event' designed to put forward an assertive and traditional face.

The crisis on its government in Jharkhand has set alarm bells ringing for the BJP, which is running coalition governments with the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar and with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka, a senior party leader said.

"Our own people, too, have contributed to what has happened in Jharkhand," a BJP leader said. "Without internal feud, parties do not land in such situations."

The BJP executive, sources say, is also certain to review its coalition governments.

The party has suspended one of its Karnataka MLCs, seen as close to a senior leader from the state, for his allegations of corruption against Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.

"Our main allies in the southern states do have an impression that some senior leader from our party was behind that embarrassing episode," another party leader said.

Independent lines taken by senior BJP leaders, such as in the wake of the suspension of former external affairs minister Natwar Singh from the Congress, is also a grave challenge for the party's top brass, party sources said.

Although the party has officially insisted its leaders Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha were authorised to hold meetings with Natwar Singh, its members privately admit their actions carried no sanction of the top leadership.

"These are serious challenges before the party, which require close attention of the party's top bosses," a member of the national executive said.

In Bihar too, he added, party MLAs were dissatisfied with the state BJP leadership and want further expansion of the ministry.

Over the past one year, several senior leaders like Uma Bharati, Madan Lal Khurana and Babu Lal Marandi have been shown the door after they registered their disaffection with the leadership.

The present national executive, BJP chief Rajnath Singh's last in his one-year term that ends in December, is designed as a symbol of the Sangh's core Hindutva ideology.

The BJP executive will also be discussing strategy for the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Punjab.

Another theme the saffron party would utilise to emphasise on its nationalist plank is the issue of national security. The executive will adopt a resolution on security voicing concern over the rise in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, naxalism in several states and insurgency in the north east.

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Harmeet Shah Singh in Dehra Dun
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