Brainstorming for 2019 polls: BJP top decision-making body to meet today

Source: PTI | By Shahid Mukhtesar | Published on 8th September 2018, 2:13 PM | National News |

New Delhi: Amid signs of unrest among the upper castes over its push for pro-ST/SC laws, the BJP will hold a two-day meeting of its key decision-making body in Delhi starting Saturday, in which the ruling party is likely to highlight the Narendra Modi government's steps for "social justice" and "economic successes".

The national executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party is also likely to respond to concerns over the rise in oil prices and refer to the previous UPA government's "mismanagement of the economy" as it meets ahead of the Assembly polls in five states, with the Lok Sabha election less than eight months away, party sources said.

BJP president Amit Shah will deliver the inaugural address in the presence of the party's top leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, on Saturday afternoon, while the latter is scheduled to give the valedictory speech on Sunday.

Significantly, the party has chosen the Ambedkar International Centre, which works to promote the works and ideas of BR Ambedkar, for hosting the meeting.

However, it will have to do a balancing act as groups claiming to represent the upper castes, its core vote bank, have been protesting the government's decision to restore the original and stringent provisions of a law on atrocities, after the Supreme Court had relaxed those. The groups had called a "Bharat Bandh" on Thursday.

Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra has gone on record seeking a rethink on the law.

The issues of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), passage of key bills -- including the one to restore the original provisions of the law on atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and another that accorded constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) -- in Parliament will also come up for discussion at the national executive meet, the sources said.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters that the executive will discuss all the topical issues. He, though, did not elaborate further.

It will be the first such meeting of the party following the death of its stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The executive will pay tribute to the former prime minister, Hussain said.

The sources said the hike announced by the government in the Minimum Support Price for a number of farm produce and the rise in the economic growth in the last quarter to 8.2 per cent would also find a mention, besides the ongoing "Gram Swaraj" campaign to cover the poor with a host of welfare programmes.

PM Modi has often cited his government's pro-poor programmes and push for laws to empower the Dalits and Other Backward Classes as an evidence of its work for "social justice", a theme likely to be picked by the BJP national executive.

The BJP is likely to present itself as a party that has promoted the interests of the backward classes -- a constituency it has constantly been wooing to big electoral successes since 2014.

Party leaders said the government's "honest" image and "successful" handling of the economy, besides the Hindutva credentials of the organisation, would keep its core constituency tethered to it in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

They added that the likely alliance of its rivals such as the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party and other regional parties would be a red herring for the upper castes.

The BJP national executive is meeting almost after a year.

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