Friday, September 23, 2016

The Bharatiya Janata Party national council meeting starting at Kozhikode, PMO also shifts there 48 hours.

Three day Bharatiya Janata Party national council meeting starts Friday at the coastal town of Kozhikode in north Kerala, the Uri attack could figure prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech.
In the terror attack on an army base in Kashmir last Sunday, 18 jawans were killed. Modi had tweeted immediately, condemning it, but has kept mum since. On Monday, he spent two hours in the army war room in New Delhi to take stock of the situation. 

He will arrive in Kozhikode on Saturday, accompanied by the entire Prime Minister’s Office. A large posse of officials and a control room as big as half a football field would be at his disposal during his 48-hour-long stay. Modi will attend meetings of party office bearers and address a public rally on Saturday evening. 

On Sunday, the meeting of the entire 2,000-member national council would be held. It is likely to adopt resolutions on the political and economic situation in the country, and programmes and policies that the government is likely to pursue as it prepares for elections in five states in 2017, including Uttar Pradesh. 

The resolutions will stress on the government’s welfare schemes for the poor, farmers and workers. The challenge among the party leaders, who sat down on Thursday evening to finalise the drafts of the resolutions, was to not let talk of the Uri terror attack overshadow efforts to highlight Modi government’s commitment to Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s philosophy of working for the welfare of the poorest. The Jan Sangh was the earlier avatar of the BJP. 

 It is customary for overnight party meetings held outside Delhi to have a temporary PMO, but few in the BJP can remember one as elaborate as the makeshift structure being constructed adjacent to a convention centre on the sprawling Swapna Nagari ground in town. “We have followed instructions to give ample space that can accommodate phone lines, secured data networks and other infrastructure for a team of three dozen officials,” a Kerala BJP source involved with logistics, who didn’t want to be named, said. 

The impact of the Uri attack, and also a red alert in Mumbai after school students on Thursday reported they saw men with arms, might have resulted in the entire PMO flying down to Kozhikode. Some sections of the BJP expects Modi to speak his mind on the issue while addressing Saturday’s public rally. His monthly radio broadcast, Mann ki Baat, is scheduled for Sunday. 

That offers another opportunity to give people confidence that New Delhi has put in motion a multi-layered strategy to isolate Pakistan internationally. The government as well as the PM is under pressure, mostly from their core supporters, to give Pakistan “a befitting reply.” 

This time, the annual national council meeting marks the official launch of the centenary birth celebrations of Upadhyaya. In the December 1967 meeting of the Jan Sangh in Kozhikode, Upadhyaya was, for the first time, elected the president of the party. He died under mysterious circumstances some 50 days later, in February 1968. 

On Thursday, BJP president Amit Shah visited temples in the city, particularly those frequented by the Ezhavas, an Other Backward Class community that the BJP has reached out to over the past two years. In recent Kerala assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share was an unprecedented 16 per cent, which it wants to build on for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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