BJP, Cong all set for D-day

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Pitching tentsWorkers set up media tents at the Congress office in New Delhi on Thursday. MONICA TIWARI

While Modi & co charts future plans, the ruling party readies its spin theories

The Congress’ penchant for understatement and the BJP’s for exaggeration were heightened a day prior to the election results.

Although he added a caveat that he was not speaking for the party, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit’s declaration that he was “unlikely to win” was reflective of the despondence in the ruling party.

At the same time, the BJP seemed to have been consumed with enthusiasm with reports of sweets being packed in tonnes of packages and thousands of workers straining to welcome their prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in a victory procession in Delhi a day after the elections.

A series of meetings between various leaders — especially Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari — led to television channels literally allocating portfolios to different BJP leaders.

The only certainty, however, was that efforts were under way to pave the fissures in the party by getting a recalcitrant LK Advani to not stage an open rebellion after the results come out. Advani, said sources, is unlikely to join a government led by Modi should he lead the NDA to a majority in the Lok Sabha.

In such a situation, an alternative role for Advani — as Chairperson of the NDA as well as Chairperson of the National Advisory Council — could be envisaged by the party.

The biggest challenge for Modi and his core group is likely to come by way of tackling Sushma Swaraj. Swaraj, said sources, had refused to join a government led by Modi and efforts were reportedly being made to persuade her otherwise. BJP President Rajnath has met her and tried to talk her into accepting a position in the government.

Sources said it was almost certain that Jaitley and Gadkari will be joining the government in case Modi wins. Rajnath, on his part, maintained that he will continue to serve as party president. This statement, however, was being perceived as a move to negotiate for a better portfolio.

Meanwhile, party workers were busy preparing for the big day tomorrow.

At Congress camp

The BJP office was decked up with two big shamianas and, in the Congress office, 32 cubicles have been erected to facilitate the operations of the media. Almost all party spokespersons and senior leaders have been summoned to Delhi. About 20 Congress spokespersons will be available for the media with the ‘spin theories’ on Friday.

At a meeting of Congress spokespersons at the party’s war room in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Marg, various ‘lines’ were said to have been formulated in the event of a massive defeat for the party.

To protect the leadership, especially Rahul Gandhi, in the event of a historic defeat that the exit polls have already predicted, the line that “both the party and the Government are responsible” is most likely to be peddled.

“Price rise, particularly in oil and gas, could be the main reason for our defeat. It had a cascading effect on other things such as food grains and vegetable. We couldn’t effectively tell the people that the prices have increased along with their revenue,” a minister said.

The other reason to be attributed for the likely defeat will be “the failures at organisational level”. Party leaders explained that since no organisational elections have held since 1999, most of the units, particularly in States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were defunct. “There was a challenge for the party from the Sangh Parivar and the units could not face the challenge,” a senior party leader said.

Published on May 15, 2014

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