Quota, Ram Mandir to resonate at national meet

Quota, Ram Mandir to resonate at national meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and others on his arrival, in Agra, Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019. PTI

Amid indications that the BJP's individual tally could come down in the next Lok Sabha polls, a call for coalition and reaching out to all sections of society, including its core constituencies, could resonate at the two-day national convention of the BJP beginning on Friday in the national capital.

An indication to this effect had come in the last two-three days with none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying on Thursday that the BJP is open to alliances and cherishes its old friends.

Though the remarks were specifically in response to a question from a worker as to whether the BJP would ally with the AIADMK, the DMK or Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, who is yet to form his political party, the elaborate reply by the prime minister during the interaction with party booth-level workers in Tamil Nadu through video conferencing hinted at the BJP’s larger future plans.

A day before the BJP's national convention, Modi recalled the "successful coalition politics" carried out by former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1990s and said the BJP's doors were "always open".

The convention is coming exactly a month after the Assembly elections in five states, when the BJP lost all three Hindi heartland states to the Congress in an election, which has been seen as a sort of a semi-final to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

With the Union Cabinet having given its nod to 10% quota for economically weaker sections in the General Category, the Modi government has repeatedly flagged that all other parties, including the Congress, promised quota on economic backwardness, but it took a "Mahapurush" like Modi to actually implement it.

Upper castes, who had by-and-large shifted their allegiance from the Congress to BJP in the Hindi heartland in the last two decades, gave the BJP a shock treatment in this last round of Assembly polls over the party's perceived pro-Dalit tilt.

While Modi himself belongs to an extremely backward class (EBC) community, the Opposition leaders have strong OBC and Dalit faces like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati in UP, and Lalu Prasad in Bihar.

The two states send 120 Lok Sabha MPs.

The BJP is now apparently trying to retain its core vote bank without letting its fresh additions from the EBC and Mahadalit votes go away.

The issues are likely to get a mention as thousands of delegates will attend the mega event, which is expected to set the tone for the party's Lok Sabha campaign.

While BJP president Amit Shah will inaugurate the event, Modi will deliver the concluding speech on Saturday. The leaders are expected to roll out the party’s agenda after that.

Besides, the meet is also happening at a time when the RSS and its affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad have upped the ante on Ram Temple with an "Abhi Nahin to Kabhi Nahin" pitch while there is a realisation in sections in the BJP that the hardline Hindutva pitch is not enough to win polls — an experience which also dawned after the electorally tepid response to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's poll rallies in Hindi heartland states.

While Modi has made it clear that the issue should first reach a finality in the court, the VHP and RSS have been demanding to construct Ram temple at Ayodhya through a law or ordinance as there is a view that the Supreme Court may not be able to decide the matter before the next Lok Sabha polls.