Bengaluru, April 4:
A generational shift was evident in more than one way as BJP concluded its two-day strategy meet here, with veteran L.K. Advani choosing to stay quiet as the party discussed its massive expansion plans.
Advani, one of the founder members of the party, did not speak at the national executive meet, the second time in the history of the party founded in 1980 by him and Atal Bihar Vajpayee along with others. The other time he did not address a national executive meet was in June 2013 in Goa which he had skipped.
The ambitious membership drive launched by party president Amit Shah meanwhile received accolades with the numbers expected to touch 10 crore by the deadline of April 31.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders expect this will pump fresh blood and energy, involving large the masses in party activities.
The party appeared happy with its performance of 10 months, with Amit Shah saying on the first day of the meeting that the party was here to stay for 10-20 years. The stage was however dominated by the contentious land acquisition bill with an aggressive BJP appearing ready to go at length to get it through.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, addressing a press conference after the meet ended, said though the government will try to get the bill passed as it is now after amendments in Lok Sabha, it is open to suggestions, if the opposition agrees for a discussion.
On Saturday, the final day of the meet, the land acquisition bill dominated the scene, with an elaborate presentation being made on its main points.
While the BJP admitted it is “worried” about the opposition’s “disinformation campaign”, it also expressed full confidence over convincing people that the bill is pro-farmer.
“We are worried about the disinformation campaign. It is a campaign against the reforms we are bringing,” said party leader and union minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“We are confident about the amendments brought by us and about Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly engaging with people and explaining the points on radio. We are willing to discuss with anyone,” she said.
The minister said a detailed power point presentation on the bill was made which explained the legislation and the amendments brought by the government.
“The members were briefed. No they will go and spread the message forward,” she said.
Sitharaman said the BJP will go to the people and explain that the law is not anti-farmer. “It is a disinformation campaign which particularly the Congress is trying to spread.”
Jaitley said the land acquisition bill passed by the UPA government in 2013 was “anti-farmer” as it “prevents rural roads, housing in rural areas and rural electrification” and the BJP will campaign among people to explain its benefits of the new bill.
He said that the bill brought by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government will help boost rural infrastructure and added the proposed industrial corridors will provide jobs to all including the landless and the Dalits.
On Advani’s silence, Jaitley refused to say what was the reason behind it. A party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was Advani who decided not to speak.
Another issue that has created trouble for the government – formation of a government in alliance with People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir- was also discussed at length.
Jaitley, talking to reporters later, said the party “endorsed” the government decision to be a part of coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.
The two-day national executive meet was preceded by the meeting of office bearers of the party.
This is the first time the national executive of the party met after it came in power in Delhi. IANS