BJP’s National Executive meet is a major event as the party is heading for elections in seven states in the coming year and in six of these, it has a government at present. Besides upcoming polls, what caught the attention of all is the elevation of Yogi Adityanath in BJP’s ‘national politics’ just before he will spearhead the BJP’s electoral charge in Uttar Pradesh.
Yogi dominates BJP’s National Executive meet
The year 2022 will be full of state assembly elections and considering the same the National Executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party met on November 7 at NDMC Convention Centre in New Delhi to chalk out the strategy for the same. The key focus of the meet was on five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Apart from the upcoming elections, many other key political issues that have dominated the political landscape of the country were also discussed.
The meeting was attended by 124 national executive members of the saffron party that included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party President JP Nadda and many Cabinet Ministers. Several Chief Ministers of BJP ruled states and leaders from Union Territories also attended the meeting virtually.
Agenda on the table
The discussion mainly focused around the election strategy in seven states that will go to polls in the coming year, the Covid situation and related issues, and farmers’ protests. Usually, the National Executive meeting takes place once in three months as per the party's constitution but this meeting is being held for the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus-led pandemic in 2020.
One of the key developments during the meet was that the Chief Ministers and BJP state Presidents of four poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa – tendered their respective presentations for the upcoming elections. Similarly, a presentation was also given by BJP's Punjab unit Chief Ashwani Kumar Sharma, who announced that the saffron party will contest all 117 seats in the state in the next Assembly elections. Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will also have elections next year.
It was clear from the deliberations that the focus of the party is on the preparations at the ground level. Considering the same, National President JP Nadda declared in his inaugural address that a ‘party committee’ shall be set up for each and every polling booth and an arrangement has to be made so that every BJP worker can listen to the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ at every booth. Senior BJP leader and Union Cabinet Minister Dharmendra Pradhan clarified in a press conference immediately after the meet was concluded that at present there are 10.4 lakh polling booths in India and of these, BJP party committees have been formed for 85 per cent so far. “The party now has to form a committee on the remaining 15 per cent booths by 25 December 2021. And in the states where elections will be held shortly, this work will be done faster," he apprised. The BJP has also made a target that by April 2, 2022, 'Panna Pramukhs' at all the booths will be appointed to give the party an upper hand over other parties.
The recently concluded by-elections that happened in 13 states and UTs were discussed and concerns were raised with regards to those segments where the Congress party had made a strong comeback.
The highest governing body of the saffron party also lauded the work done by the Central Government in just nine months of the Covid led pandemic to mobilise medical support. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “While lauding the commendable work of vaccination done in India we also remember how the Opposition parties had raised many questions on vaccination carried by the government from the very beginning." The 100 crore vaccinations and providing free food grains to 80 crore poor people were also hailed by the party.
Yogi Adityanath’s elevation
What caught the attention of all was Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tabling the resolution after the meet and the praise he showered over the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. This, sources say, has squashed the speculations made by some Opposition parties that a tussle is brewing up between the National leadership of the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh leadership.
Yogi Adityanath held, “PM’s vision of ‘one sun, one world, one grid” got solid support at the recent COP-26 meet in Glasgow. PM is the most popular leader of the world, according to a survey conducted by a reputed global agency. At the G20 meet, the PM gave the important message of one world, one health, imparting a sense of direction to the world.” The Uttar Pradesh Government held that under PM Modi, India's reputation has improved globally and the Indian passport has earned its due respect.
Experts believe that Yogi’s rise in the National Executive to a level where he was asked to table the political resolution has a message in it which all parties in the country are looking at. Usually the resolution is moved by stalwarts of the party. In the recent past, resolutions were moved by leaders like Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu. “Yogi’s elevation to move the resolution has two messages– first, the rumours of a fight between central leadership of the BJP and Yogi is gutted. Secondly, it raises Yogi to the comity of central leadership which means that he may put his hat in the ring for Prime Ministership when Narendra Modi retires,” says Pawan Pandey, a political thinker based in Prayagraj.
Analysts also say that the saffron party is eying the 2022 Assembly and 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Yogi’s elevation in the National Executive is also seen as a natural extension of Amit Shah’s Lucknow visit where he held that Modi’s 2024 win will be possible through Yogi’s 2022 victory. Hence, the importance given to the UP Chief Minister is a direct message to the electorate of the largest state of the country in terms of assembly seats and the number of MPs it sends to Lok Sabha.
In an interaction with the media during the meet, Sitharaman maintained, “Yogi Adityanath is running the government in the biggest state. Everyone knows his work during the Covid pandemic — be it for migrant labourers or creating jobs in villages. He has been a senior MP in Parliament. Why should we not call him to place the political resolution? We will surely do.”
This time, many prominent faces were missing from the meet – the ones worth mentioning here are senior leaders like former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, her son and parliamentarian Varun Gandhi and Subramanian Swamy. This is because party President JP Nadda had dropped their names in the recently re-constituted 80-member National Executive. Sources in the party said that they were ousted because despite repeated warnings from the party they continued to attack their own government on several issues like farmers’ protests, security matters and national economy.
Varun Gandhi has been questioning the Central Government and the Uttar Pradesh government on various matters pertaining to agriculture and farmers for quite some time now. He has openly backed agitating farmers’ demands. Varun was also amongst the first who had demanded the arrest of those responsible for mowing down farmers in Lakhimpur. On the other hand, Subramanian Swamy is famous as an unguided missile who criticizes Modi Government’s handling of the economic and foreign policy of the country.