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In poll times, demonetization, surgical strikes hold sway over BJP meet

Outside the venue of the BJP conclave, an imposing poster showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah listed out the “schemes after cash curbs”.

Inside the hall, where the party’s national executive began on Friday, Modi was given a standing ovation for “historic and bold” decisions like demonetization and surgical strikes.

The BJP, hoping the two issues will give it an edge in the assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, is all set to make the fight against corruption and terror its key planks.

While the party is projecting demonetization and the battle against corruption as a pro-poor move, it has signalled that it will take tough decisions if Pakistan continued to engage in a proxy war.

“The surgical strikes ordered by the Prime Minister and the total rejection of the separatist agenda by the people and governments of J&K and the Centre are a categorical assertion to Pakistan that its ulterior designs shall never succeed and the government led by PM Modi will continue to demonstrate zero tolerance for terrorism; and it reserves every right to respond to such threats in an appropriate and out-of- the-box manner in future also,” the party’s political resolution said.

Shah, in his inaugural address at the meet, described demonetization and surgical strikes as, “historic and courageous” decisions. He said demonetization would ensure “welfare and justice” to the poor, Union minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters later. He said surveys in all the poll-bound states gave “overwhelming” support for demonetization and of the 10,000 local body elections in various states after November 8, in which the BJP won 8,000.

However, when asked if elections would be seen as a referendum on demonetization, Javadekar said: “Whether it will be or not, let’s wait and see after elections.”

The BJP, which is confident that Modi’s gamble has paid off politically, is all set to make it a major pro-poor poll plank to take on the Opposition.

“The Opposition stands exposed. Earlier, they wanted to know what the government had done about its promise to bring back black money. Now, they are asking why the Prime Minister has taken steps against black money,” Javadekar quoted Shah as saying.

Further linking demonetization to the government’s “pro-poor” approach, Shah said it would add to revenue for welfare schemes. “There would be an additional Rs 4-5 lakh crore available for the development of the poor to ensure them food, shelter, health, education,” Javadekar said. Demonetization is expected to figure in the BJP’s economic resolution, which will be passed on Saturday.

The other issue on which the BJP has pinned its hopes, particularly in UP, is the surgical strikes, which Shah said was a decision taken after the pain over the Uri attack.

“We salute our brave soldiers for valiantly fighting and laying down their lives to secure our borders and honour. That the strikes have had the required effect on our neighbour can be gauged from the fact that there is near normal silence on the Indo-Pak border in the last few weeks and also the initiative taken by Pakistan to call for DGMO level talks between the two countries,” the party’s political resolution said.

Underlining Modi’s stress on “antyodaya”, the resolution also made a distinction between reform and transformation. “We are here not merely for reform. Reform is good, but it is largely about tinkering with the existing system. PM Modi’s vision is transformative… Government’s schemes and programmes were intended to bring about a fundamental course correction and transformation at the grassroots,” it said.

The resolution took on the Opposition, particularly the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left. Taking on the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal, it said “in states like Bengal, normal functioning of political activity has become difficult under the draconian TMC rule.”

It also said the “extreme appeasement politics” of the governments in West Bengal and Kerala have led to communal tension and strife. “The failure of the TMC in Bengal in safeguarding the majority law-abiding community is most glaring in the recent Dhulagarh riots where the rioters went about torching houses and shouting slogans like Pakistan Zindabad while the state police had looked the other way,” the resolution said.