Go find Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah tells Congress as BJP introspects on land bill
The party's resolve to overcome deterrents to the land bill is apparent as party leaders would be given an audio-visual presentation linking the proposed amendments with the government's development agenda.
Delivering his inaugural address at the two-day BJP National Executive in Bengaluru, party president Amit Shah today said that the Congress party "instead of spending time and energy in finding non-existent issues and fictional fault against us (the BJP), should focus on finding their missing leader Rahul Gandhi."
Notwithstanding the jibe against the Congress, the BJP seemed determined to strengthen its bastion in southern India. Choosing the Karnataka capital, where incidentally the Congress is in power, is a clear indication to that. This is the party's first National Executive meet after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah took charge in their present offices.
The choice of venue was done after due consideration as Karnataka is also the only big state in the country where Congress has its government. Although elections in the state are due only in 2018, the BJP wants to send a message across including its political rivals that it is mindful of its long term interests and presence.
However, at the National Executive meet the party's immediate attention was on the land bill which the government failed to get it passed in Rajya Sabha. The bill was today re-promulgated for the second time after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent, just a day before it lapses. The general acceptance among the delegates was that the controversial land acquisition bill has harmed the image of the Modi government. The NDA-led government at the Centre would complete a year in office in May.
Both the party and the government have been trying to convince the country, particularly the farming community, that the amendments brought out by the Modi government in the UPA made land law were actually intended to help farmers. However, this is proving to be an uphill task as some of the NDA constituents besides the opposition seem unconvinced by the government's intent. The moment the Centre opted for the ordinance route on a sensitive issue like land acquisition with an aim to build a favourable public opinion later, the opposition has been unitedly up in arms against the government.
Modi and Shah have thus far focussed on three things –- glorifying the membership drive crossing nine crore mark making BJP the largest party in the world; second, finding ways and means to keep the new party "members" and "workers" engaged and third, brainstorming to clear the land bill hurdle.
The MPs and others delegated would now work as the government's brand ambassadors in their respective influence zone to convince people about the merits of the land bill. The feedback, which the BJP leadership has so far got, has done little to cheer the top brass. The captains of the party are aware that an anti-farmer and pro-corporate image would potentially damage BJP's image both in the immediate future and in the long run.
The party's resolve to overcome deterrents to the land bill is apparent as party leaders would be given an audio-visual presentation linking the proposed amendments with the government's development agenda. The land bill would also be highlighted as one of the achievements of the Modi government in its first year in power. The presentation intends to make a point by point rebuttal to the charges made by the opposition. The presentation carries detailed comparisons between the 2013 Land Acquisition Act enacted by the UPA government and the one proposed by the Modi government (nine amendments included).
In his address, the BJP chief also referred to the humiliation that the party suffered in the last Delhi Assembly election. "We never become arrogant after victory, nor do we become desperate after one loss. Delhi unit will examine reasons for the loss," Shah said. Putting the Delhi loss behind, he asked party cadres to gear up for the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls. The state is scheduled to elect a new Assembly in October-November this year.
The leadership is aware that the morale of the BJP cadres would have to be maintained at a high octane level to keep the party battle ready. The projected ten crore membership mark is being used as a required booster dose to the party workers to keep their morale up. This shifts attention from Delhi loss (with some additional contribution from fratricidal feud in AAP) and convey a message that the people at large were still attracted to Modi and the BJP. The party is also attempting to publicise flagship NDA programmes like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Namani Gange.
Those who gave a missed call for BJP’s membership drive should be ready to have regular party workers knocking at there doors under a Mahasankalp Abhiyan after 30 April. A gigantic training programme for 15 lakh workers from block to district to state level would then start to keep Modi’s long term organisational and electoral ambitions moving.
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