30 Jan : Highlighting the achievements of the previous NDA regime and "aggressively exposing the failures of the UPA government" will be the twin objectives of the BJP during the Lok Sabha election campaign.
This was decided in a meeting of BJP chief ministers and central party leaders convened by its Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani at New Delhi on Thursday.
The strategy, campaign issues and the blueprint for the campaign were also discussed.
"It was decided that a focused, aggressive campaign to highlight the failures of the UPA government will be undertaken. A comparison will be made with the achievements of the previous NDA government," senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.
He said despite "tall claims" made by the UPA government, terrorism, rising prices, plight of farmers and growing unemployment will still be the relevant poll issues.
The BJP plans to emphasise on some of the popular schemes launched by the NDA and also campaign about the unfinished work of that government, promising their completion if BJP-led coalition is voted to power.
"The ambitious river-linking project launched by the then prime minister A B Vajpayee will be started again if NDA comes to power," Naidu said.Other achievements of NDA like increasing road connectivity through National Highways project and improving telecommunications will also be publicised.
The saffron party also plans to inform the electorate about the "discrimination of the UPA government against non-UPA ruled states".
The focus on first-time voters, aged between 18-25 years, will continue. "Our program to facilitate such voters will be held across the country," Naidu said.
Some of the senior BJP leaders have been asked not to contest the Lok Sabha polls and instead act as "pracharaks" (campaigners) during the polls.
Naidu said NDA had handed over a "resilient economy" to the UPA in 2004 but now it had reached a stage where even daily commodities were not available at affordable prices.
"Congress said it was with the common man. But this is not the case," he said.
Accusing the UPA government of playing divisive politics, Naidu said, "We will focus on good governance, delivery, development and welfare of the people."
BJP Chief ministers have been advised to travel across their respective states and also in different parts of the country for campaigning during the polls.
BJP accuses Congress of being conservative
Condemning the statement of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot against pub culture, the BJP accused the Congress of conservatism and of indulging in politics on such issues.
"Yesterday we saw the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot saying he will close down all pubs and is against pub culture. BJP would like an answer from the Congress on the issue and their stand as far as pubs are concerned. It reflects the conservatism of the Congress party. It should stop politics over this issue, apologise to BJP and make its stand clear," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters at New Delhi on Thursday.
The right-wing party, which has espoused the cause of Indian culture and tradition in the past, sought to club Gehlot’s statement with the Ram Sena attack on women in a Mangalore pub on 24th January.
Countering the Congress allegation that it had links with Ram Sena, BJP said it was the Congress which was close to this organisation as its leaders had shared the dais with Ram Sena chief Pramod Muthalik in Pune.
"The Congress party has always charged BJP of being conservative. And in a similar way it has charged the BJP of involvement with Ram Sena though BJP has condemned their actions. We would certainly like an answer about why Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit was sharing the stage with Ram Sena Chief in a program in Pune at the invitation of Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi," Rudy said.
BJP announces list of 16 candidates for LS polls
In an apparent indication of a lack of consensus on several seats, BJP declared a list of 16 candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections following a meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee at New Delhi.
Of the candidates declared, 12 are from Uttar Pradesh, three from Kerala and one from Daman & Diu.
With this, the total number of candidates announced by the party for the Lok Sabha polls has reached 52.
The BJP candidates from UP are Chaudhary Hukum Singh Gurjar (Kairana), three-time MLA Sarvesh Singh (Moradabad), Aridaman Singh (Sikri), Raghuvar Dayal Verma (Ferozabad), singer Tripti Shakhya (Mainpuri), Krishna Raj (Shahjahanpur- SC), Ajay Mishra Teni (Kheri), Anil Bhargava (Misrikh- SC), Ranjan Chaudhary (Mohanlalganj- SC), Mithilesh Aggarwal (Farrukhabad), Subrata Pathak (Kanauj), Gautam Chaudhary (Kaushambi- SC).
The list indicates that BJP could not reach an understanding with the Rashtriya Lok Dal for Kairana seat on which RLD leader Anuradha Chaudhuri is the sitting MP.
BJP does not have a sitting MP on any these 12 seats, most of which are the stronghold of Samajwadi Party.
Shahjahanpur, represented by Congress MP and Minister of State for Steel, Jitin Prasada, is now a reserved seat post-delimitation.
The three BJP candidates from Kerala are K V Sabu (Chalakkudi), P M Velayudhan (Mavelikara- SC) and Thottakkad Sasi (Attingal).
Lalubhai Babubhai Patel will be the BJP candidate from Daman & Diu.
BJP has not declared any candidate on Parliamentary seats of Lucknow (Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s constituency) and Eta (from where Kalyan Singh had been announced as a candidate earlier).
"Till now we have declared candidates for 32 Lok Sabha seats from UP. The social combination in the state has been kept in mind while selecting the candidates," Secretary, BJP CEC, Ananth Kumar told reporters at New Delhi on Wednesday.
The saffron party, already in a weak position in UP as it has only nine sitting MPs out of 80 in the state, suffered a further set-back with the exit of former chief minister Kalyan Singh.
Singh, a strong OBC leader from the Lodh community, has a good hold on atleast five constituencies of Western UP where the community has a heavy presence.