Declaring that his party will “rule India for the next 10-20 years”, BJP president Amit Shah on Friday advised the Congress to “look for its missing leader rather than search for non-existing flaws in the government”.

The details of Shah’s first address to the party’s national executive here were shared with the media by Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar. While the speech was made in a closed-door session, its highlights were quoted verbatim by Javadekar.

From what was communicated, it seemed that the BJP president’s endeavour was to play down the defeat in Delhi and showcase Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives which, according to him, have brought about a “paradigm shift in the national policy discourse”.

Both the PM and the BJP president have put in a joint effort to convert the ongoing national executive meeting of the party into a celebration of Modi’s 10 months in power and prevent discussions on niggling issues such as the reasons for the defeat in Delhi as well as future challenges in Bihar and inner-party disquiet reflected in senior leader LK Advani’s refusal to address the meeting.

Ups and downs

Shah dismissed the BJP’s humiliating defeat in Delhi as a routine instance of the ups and down in politics. “In politics, we win some and lose some. More important thing is that victories should not make us arrogant nor should defeat make us despondent. We won a series of elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. After that, we lost in Delhi. It happens sometimes. The Delhi unit is analysing it,” he said.

The BJP is facing what most party leaders believe is an uphill task in Bihar, where elections are due in October-November this year. Caste equations favour the socialists and the BJP does not have a strong enough leader to take on Nitish Kumar.

Shah revealed what is likely to be the focus of the BJP’s campaign in Bihar — return of Goonda Raj - II, a reference to Lalu Prasad’s chief ministerial tenure which marked an abysmal law and order situation in the State.

“People of Bihar voted for the JD(U) and BJP alliance in the last elections. But Nitish Kumar betrayed the mandate and broke the alliance. The moment Nitish Kumar left us, it was the return of Goonda Raj in Bihar. People fear a repeat of that. The BJP is headed for a victory in Bihar because they do not want a return of GoondaRaj,” Shah said.

Talking about the strong opposition to the Land Acquisition Bill led by the Congress, the BJP president made a snide reference to Rahul Gandhi’s supposed leave of absence.

“The Opposition is totally demoralised. They have no stick to beat us with so they are finding flaws that do not exist. I suggest that instead of searching for non-existent problems, they should start looking for their missing leader,” he said.

Turnaround of economy

Just as the PM had complimented Shah on taking the BJP membership to about 10 crore members by the end of this month, the BJP president said Modi had turned around the country’s economy, investor climate and pro-people policies in just 10 months.

“The previous PM used to tell us that ‘money does not grow on trees’. But now inflation is down, the GDP growth has been revised from 4.4. per cent to 7.4 per cent, investments are coming, forex reserves are at an all time high,” he said.

He also recounted the government’s successes in coal and spectrum auctions, which fetched “massive revenues” for the State exchequer.