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The Uri terror attack loomed large as the BJP National Executive met today ahead of the two-day National Council meeting starting tomorrow amidst demands for tough action against Pakistan.
The party itself sought to focus on the pro-poor agenda during the deliberations with BJP President Amit Shah asking its state governments to execute the schemes aimed at the welfare of the poor in the centenary birth anniversary year of its ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
On the first day of the three-day exercise, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate from tomorrow, Shah focused on the party's 'garib kalyan' agenda in his address to the office-bearers.
Against the backdrop of the Uri attack in which 18 soldiers were killed, a key leader maintained that the party appreciates the sentiments in the country and that "action will keep happening" against Pakistan.
BJP fielded its General Secretary Ram Madhav, who has advocated punitive action against Pakistan, before the media to outline the Council's focus on 'antyodaya' (uplift of the last man) and say how it is an occasion for the party to rededicate itself to Upadhyay's ideals.
Madhav parried a volley of questions about the party's position on the Uri attack but made it clear that it will be deliberated in the Council.
"We are a party of grassroot workers. We understand and appreciate the sentiments in the country," he said.
Prodded again, Madhav said, "A lot has happened in the last three days, especially on the diplomatic front".
The party will air its views in the coming days, he said. "Let's wait for a while. There is joy in wait. You (media) will get your food," Madhav said.
Asked about the "lack of action" despite leaders, including him, making strong comments against Pakistan, he said, "You want only statements or action too? Actions too will keep happening."
Soon after the Uri attack, Madhav had spoken about India adopting the policy of "for one tooth, complete jaw", asserting that the days of strategic restraint are over.
Modi, who is scheduled to address a public meeting tomorrow, is expected to speak on the Uri incident at a time when there has been a clamour within the party and outside for action against Pakistan.
There has been criticism of the Prime Minister with some detractors recalling the attacks he had made against the UPA government for its alleged soft attitude towards Pakistan- sponsored terror.
Shah will also speak tomorrow and deliver his address to the Council on Sunday when Modi will give the valedictory speech.
Both leaders will touch on the Uri incident in their speeches, party leaders said.
BJP's National Council will adopt the 'garib kalyan'
report of a committee headed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and is likely to ask states, where it is in power, to implement pro-poor schemes of the Modi government with a one-year target.
Almost 80 schemes of the Centre are aimed at the welfare of the poor and the committee is also believed to have incorporated certain schemes of the different party-run state governments that can be replicated in other states.
"It (Council) is essentially dedicated to Upadhyay's ideals. We are setting a new trend for all political parties that you can have a national council dedicated to constructive works," Madhav told reporters, adding that it was not merely about strategising to win coming elections.
"It is a historic, unique conference," he said.
A senior party leader said the top brass wants to position the organisation as the party of the poor in the same way Congress projected itself for decades with its populist and welfare policies.
"Unlike the Congress whose pro-poor agenda was confined to slogans and did little good to the poor, we want our schemes to touch their lives positively and position ourselves as their true benefactors before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls," he said but declined to be quoted.
Shah told the party's office-bearers at the meeting held in a scenic resort on the Malabar town's outskirts that Kozhikode was a "holy pilgrimage" centre for them as it was here that Upadhyay was elected as President of the Jana Sangh, the BJP's forerunner, in 1967.
"Now a government of Deen Dayal Upadhyay's ideology is ruling the country with full majority and it is imperative for us to realise his principle of antyodaya. The government and the organisation should work in unision to this purpose," he said.
Madhav said the Council will also finalise a year-long list of programmes to celebrate his birth centenary anniversary, which falls on September 25.
"The year will be dedicated to the welfare of the downtrodden," he said, adding that Modi will kick off the exercise on September 25. The Prime Minister will also attend an event to felicitate associates of Upadhyay.
The Council is likely to adopt one resolution on its last day on Sunday.
The party has also made elaborate arrangements to beam Modi's speech at the Council live so that its workers across the country can hear him.
Madhav also hit out at the Left Front government in Kerala, saying that BJP's and RSS' functionaries have been at the receiving end of the violence of CPI(M) cadres.