Putting the alliance ahead of the party, Advani set a winning target of 361 seats, contending that the mission to achieve the goal is not impossible provided we continue to be a party with difference and work in sync with our partners.
In his concluding remarks at the BJP's national council meeting here, which was called to put party men from across the country in election mode, Advani singled out in praising Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for his feat of winning elections back to back in the state, but strongly denied suggestions that he had become bigger than the party. How can a son of a family, even if he is the most successful, be bigger than the family At most he could be an asset and so he is for us, he said.
However, projecting Gujarat Model as a way forward for the party in days to come, Advani maintained, three chief ministers in the party ruled states have to pass through the litmus test and have to beat anti-incumbency. Suggesting the chief ministers of MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan that they might need to replace many of the sitting MLAs, he said, In many cases anti-incumbency is not always only with the government, rather party functionaries, MLAs, MPs and ministers draw a lot of negative forces with them. So at the time of ticket distribution, the state leadership needs to be careful.
Interestingly attempting an image makeover for himself, the BJP veteran refused to buy the argument that in Gujarat it was a victory of Hindu forces. Rather I see its a victory of good governance and development over politics of appeasement, he said.
Changing track in attacking the UPA government, Advani appeared eager to impress the rank and file of the party that there was an urgent need to dislodge the tottering Congress-led coalition at the Centre, which has a non-leader Prime Minister, who takes command from 10 Janpath.
This sentiment was also echoed in the partys political resolution, which compared the present regime with car without a driver of which the steering and the accelerator are controlled by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the breaks with Left parties.
Regretting the present system of governance, Advani even targeted the Left for holding the Government to ransome on many policy issues. This has led to a Kremlinisation of Indian politics which is not good, he said. The message of the conference was that if party men unitedly put the best foot forward to face the polls and were faithful to the alliance spirit of the NDA, not only the magic figure of 273 could be crossed, but could touch the collective NDA target of 361.
While no leader spoke of Pramod Mahajan, which party men in private regretted and said the late leader was known for his organisational skills and whom Vajpayee had described as Lakshman with Advani as Ram.