THE Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to promote itself as a leading party in Maharashtra and leave no stone unturned to pitch for its own chief ministerial candidate in the 2014 Assembly elections. At the national executive meeting on Wednesday, the party leaders tried to put across the message that they need to adopt an aggressive mode and shed the two-decade-old “small brother” attitude vis—a—vis alliance partner Shiv Sena.
At the closed-door meeting held at the party office in Dadar here that stretched beyond four hours, the message was loud and clear that “BJP is a national party and will no longer play second fiddle to any regional party in the state”.
Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, in his inaugural speech, said: “Let us take the pledge to make BJP the number one party and bring the BJP-led grand alliance to power after the 2014 Assembly elections.”
He told the party workers that the BJP would have to launch an aggressive campaign.
The executive was a precursor to the mega show the party intends to display at its state council meeting on Thursday at the Andheri Sports Club in Mumbai. The massive preparations to accommodate more than 3,500 delegates across the state show that the BJP is readying itself for a fierce battle. Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Environment Prakash Javdekar, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies Raosaheb Danve are scheduled to attend the meeting.
Talking to The Indian Express, chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said: “You will see many surprises on Thursday. The political aggression is an outcome of the pressure building up from the cadre to take the big leap forward. This is the largest congregation of delegates at any state event. We have invited central leaders to taluka-level leaders to convey a very strong message ahead of the Assembly polls.”
A senior leader representing North Maharashtra minced no words when he said: “Make no mistake, BJP is the national party with pan-India appeal. Why should we be on the defensive? We are going to push for projection of a chief ministerial candidate at the council meeting.”
He added: “Why should the sentiments of our workers be suppressed?”
At least 55 district presidents presented their reports on the party’s strengths and weaknesses as the BJP executive outlined the extensive poll plans for all 288 constituencies in Maharashtra.