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BJP steps up preparation for LS polls

Our Political Bureau  |  New Delhi 

As part of the series of strategic sessions planned by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and party chief M Venkaiah Naidu met yesterday to draw a poll campaign roadmap.
The top leadership of the party is believed to have discussed the strategy to motivate the party cadre into action on the eve of polls.
The meeting was also significant because Naidu is set to be re-elected as the party chief at the party's plenary session, beginning in February.
This was indicated by the Prime Minister when he showered praises on Naidu at the recently concluded BJP national executive in Hyderabad.
During the strategic sessions, the party will analyse the inputs received through various surveys conducted to assess the impact of a series of "populist announcements" on the electorate as the polls is likely to be held in April.
The manner in which the Congress has been trying to forge coalitions with regional and even sub-regional forces to give a semblance of alternative to the National democratic Alliance (NDA), seems to have alarmed the BJP.
Sonia Gandhi's attempt to forge a political alliance with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is particularly causing concern for the BJP and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.
If the tie-up is formalised, will throw up a formidable social combination in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and will have its impact on poll outcome.
Sources in the BJP said though the party's top leadership was enthusiastic about political packaging of the "feel-good" factor on the economic front, the feed-back from the ground did not paint a very optimistic picture.
During the meeting with general secretaries and the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states, the party leadership will try to identify the "vulnerable areas" and prepare a strategy to win them over on the eve of polls.
According to BJP sources, all BJP general secretaries will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss the manner in which the campaign has to be advanced and focused.
Obviously, the party leadership is devising separate strategies for different regional areas to capitalise on local issues, while retaining the focus on Vajpayee at the national level.
Similarly, a meeting of chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states has been called on Wednesday to prepare a poll campaign plan to neutralise the possibility of an anti-incumbency factor and capitalise on the performance of the Vajpayee government.
The BJP had won a substantial number of seats in Gujarat , Madhya Pradesh, Delhi in 1999 elections.
"Our efforts will be to retain those seats, while expanding in other areas," said a BJP general secretary.
That the party leadership has been planning its move in a concerted manner is underlined by the fact that there are efforts to involve the Prime Minister at every level of deliberations.
This has also reflected in the Prime Minister's decision to cancel his foreign visit and be available for consultation with the party leadership.

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First Published: Tue, January 20 2004. 00:00 IST