After strategy session with RSS, BJP core group meets today

After strategy session with RSS, BJP core group meets today
New Delhi The BJP's top leadership will meet today to follow up on Thursday's strategy meeting between key affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, collectively known as the Sangh Parivar. It is also the first core group meeting after Rajnath Singh took over as party president last week.

Yesterday's meeting was described by leaders as routine. But, sources said, at the secretive meeting held at the Lodi Estate home of a Goa MP, the RSS brought together top leaders of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP, to outline a roadmap for the general elections 2014.

The RSS is the ideological mentor of both organisations, but there have been deep differences between the two in recent years as the VHP accused the BJP of abandoning the Ram Temple movement.  

It was decided at the meeting, sources said, to cautiously shift focus again to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue - once the BJP's core political agenda, but pushed to a small, remote mention in its election manifestoes in recent years.

RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said about the meeting, "There is always an effort from every organisation for better coordination, cohesion and better understanding. This effort should be seen from that light. It should not be looked at as one trying to impose one's agenda on another."

Sources said the soft launch of the Hindutva plan is likely to happen next week at a gathering of sants or priests backed by the VHP at the Kumbh Mela now on in Uttar Pradesh; some BJP leaders could attend that meeting, where a new timeframe might be announced for the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

That would be timed to coincide with the elevation of the BJP's star draw Narendra Modi as the face of the party's campaign for the 2014 elections. Mr Modi, for long a Hindutva poster boy, has in recent years attempted an image-makeover as a mascot of good governance in his role of the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The plan, said sources, is that while Sangh affiliates like the VHP will manage the Hindutva campaign, the BJP and Mr Modi will continue to talk development and good governance.

To kick off that exercise, Mr Modi is expected to be inducted into the BJP's parliamentary board after new president Rajnath Singh's appointment is endorsed at a party meet this month and he picks his new team.

Sources said Mr Modi is likely to be made chairman of the BJP's campaign committee. In that role, he will not shift to Delhi and can keep charge as Gujarat CM, a post he won for the third time in a row with a resounding victory in the Assembly elections last month.

What the BJP is unlikely to do yet is to name Mr Modi as its candidate for Prime Minister in next year's Lok Sabha elections. Despite pressure from portions of the party and even ally Shiv Sena, which has said that the National Democratic Alliance must name its candidate for PM well in time, the BJP will tread cautiously.

Mr Modi is not acceptable to partners like the Janata Dal (United) and an early announcement might also divide the BJP, which has other contenders to the post.

The soft shift back to the Hindutva plank as a political agenda comes soon after Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde made his controversial "saffron terror" remark at a strategy meeting of his own party, the Congress. The Sangh reportedly sees this as a Congress attempt to consolidate minority votes and, sources said, in that sees an opportunity to consolidate the Hindu vote.

Story First Published: February 01, 2013 09:45 IST

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