Jaitley heads for Uttar Pradesh to set BJP house in order

By Faraz Ahmad, IANS

New Delhi : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Arun Jaitley is going to Lucknow to hold his first meeting July 21 with party legislators in Uttar Pradesh after assuming charge of the state.

Support TwoCircles

The meeting is aimed at reviving the state unit, which is said to be demoralised and despondent after suffering a stunning defeat in the assembly elections held April-May this year.

None of the national-level leaders, however, will be present at this meeting, sources close to Jaitley told IANS.

The need to lift the BJP's spirits in UP was underlined by Leader of Opposition L K Advani at the party's national executive meeting last month.

Advani had criticised attempts to brush under the carpet any discussion on the reasons behind the BJP's election debacle.

Jaitley, who assumed charge after the election results, was abroad on holiday during the meeting.

Party president Rajnath Singh had tried to explain away the defeat saying the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati had capitalised on the anger and annoyance against the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Another reason he cited was media speculation about a secret deal between the BJP and the ruling Samajwadi Party.

But Advani refused to accept the party president's explanation and demanded "honest introspection and self-critical analysis."

During the national executive, Advani specifically wanted to know why the BJP had failed to project itself as the most credible and winnable alternative to the incumbent party.

"Why did a section of our core supporters shift to the Bahujan Samaj Party? Why were we unable to win support from other sections of society? What were the weaknesses in our party organisation? What mistakes were committed in the management of our campaign?" Advani asked.

Jaitley now has his task cut out, as he has to detail all the urgent corrective actions that need to be taken – both at the centre and in the state.

But the troubleshooter indicated that he is not interested in raking up old issues and said he believed in "looking forward."

"I have been to Lucknow once earlier. Yes, this can be called the first meeting with the MLAs and we need to look forward," he told IANS.

Evidently Jaitley is also keen on pursuing Rajnath Singh's line of organising the party at the booth-level to be fully prepared with modern management techniques, especially during the 2009 general elections.

"The BJP's stakes will be the highest then and everything will depend on the party's success in the state," said a BJP member of parliament.