Buoyed by its electoral successes in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart L K Advani on Sunday said that his party was on a comeback trail as people were eager to vote out the 'dysfunctional' Congress-led United Progressive Alliance regime at the Centre.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh after his return from Shimla, Advani said that the UPA regime had been dysfunctional and paralysed for the past six months due to the internal squabbles between it and the Left, particularly on the India-United States nuclear agreement.
"Earlier, I thought general elections may be held somewhere in early 2008, but after our electoral successes, the UPA may hold them later next year or in early 2009," he said.
Advani, who had traveled to Shimla to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prem Kumar Dhumal as the Chief Minister of HP, said that the outcome of polls in Gujarat and the hill state will change India's political scene.
"The disappointing patch, between 2004 and 2007, is over for us," he declared.
The Leader of the Oppostion in the Lok Sabha alleged, "The Congress and its pseudo-secular supporters sought to convert Gujarat into some kind of national referendum on communalism versus secularism".
"Gujarat elections were no ordinary elections. The way Congress pumped all its energy and money was phenomenal. They tried to divert people's attention from good governance, but ultimately they failed miserably in their effort," he said.
Without naming anyone, Advani said some pundits had been quick to write the obituary of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance when it lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
"The unexpected setback suffered by the BJP in those elections and the accidental return of the Congress to power at the Centre created an atmosphere wherein some pundits were quick to write our obituary--just as they had done in 1984, when we were able to win only two Lok Sabha seats," he said.
Advani said that out of the six assembly elections held this year, Congress had won only in Goa.
He claimed that people will make the BJP victorious in Karnataka, where it "became a victim of opportunism and betrayal" and where it was hoping polls would be held in April.
Advani also said that the BJP had learnt the right lessons from its defeat in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year.
"However, I believe that, in the next parliamentary elections, the BJP and the BJP-led NDA will be the principal beneficiaries of swing voters nationally, since they will see my party and the NDA as the only real alternative to the discredited UPA regime," he said.
"The nation is paying a very heavy price for having a non-performing government headed by the weakest ever Prime Minister in India's history. The Prime Minister's office has been so devalued that his writ does not run even in his own cabinet," he alleged.
He claimed the UPA regime, in addition to having failed to keep its own coalition in order, had also failed to tackle the issues of terrorism and price rise.
"The UPA government's worst failure has been in the area of internal security. Its soft approach to terrorism, guided by vote-bank considerations, has emboldened the forces of jihadi terrorism," he said.
Advani said that after the killing of Benazir Bhutto and the rising spectre of the "Talibanisation of Pakistan, India can ill-afford to ignore the threat of jihadi terrorism to national security, unity and integrity".
"Today, I have read a statement by the National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, in which he says that India needs to be insulated from the negative fallout of the developments in Pakistan. Far from insulating India, the UPA government has imperiled India due to its politics of minorityism even in dealing with jihadi terrorism," he claimed.
He said that solutions to problems facing the nation lie in good governance, equitable development, national security and probity in public life.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress led UPA government about the Indo-US nuclear deal, he alleged that the Congress leadership has tried to "mortgage India's strategic defence autonomy to some illusionary gains in energy security".
"The debate on the nuclear deal has shown that the BJP is the only party that has a clear, comprehensive and principled approach to all the issues associated with the deal," he said.
Advani alleged that the nuclear deal issue has also exposed the Communist parties' lack of concern for India's national security, "since they have doggedly refused to make constraints on future nuclear testing an issue for opposing the deal."It is really pathetic to see the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist welcome nuclear weapons possessed by China and Russia, but oppose India's own nuclear deterrent," he said.