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In power in 11 states, BJP to debate the future (Curtain Raiser)

IANS  |  Bengaluru 

Having emerged as the world's largest political party, the leadership of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will meet here for two days from Friday to brainstorm how to rapidly expand its influence beyond its record 11 states where it is now in power.

With a confident Prime Minister Narendra Modi and an assertive party president Amit Shah in attendance, the meeting of the national executive will draw more than 110 delegates from all over the country.

A host of issues will come up for discussion, party leaders say, with the controversial land bill -- which has united a disparate opposition -- expected to be taken up in a big way.

Party leaders say the BJP will be giving a clear message to its leaders and units to reach out to farmers to explain the bill's benefits and trash the propaganda of the opposition.

It will be the first national executive meeting since Modi became the prime minister in May 2014. A national council meeting was held in August.

It will also be the first meeting since Shah, a Modi confidant, took over the presidency last year.

"It is an important session because we have 10 months of good work (of the Modi government)," BJP's national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh told IANS.

He said the meeting would chalk out ways to expose the "misinformation" and "propaganda" of opposition parties, which say that the land bill would take away land from farmers and pass them on to industrial houses.

A BJP leader who did not want to be named added that the land bill will be the "big focus" of the meeting.

The BJP is aware of the dangers if the opposition is able to sustain its campaign against the bill, which got passed in the Lok Sabha with nine official amendments but needs to get past the opposition-held Rajya Sabha.

BJP leaders will also deliberate on the preparations for assembly polls in Bihar later this year.

The BJP is determined to win the state after the shocking rout in Delhi.

"The BJP won all Lok Sabha seats in Delhi but the situation changed in the assembly election. We need to take calculated steps in Bihar, specially since all opposition parties have joined hands," said a party leader from Bihar who did not want to be identified.

The ruling Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have come together against the BJP in Bihar.

BJP spokesperson M.J. Akbar said Modi and Shah will outline the party's priorities in Bengaluru.

"The prime minister and party president will set the course for the party so that it is able to play its legitimate role in a resurgent India," Akbar told IANS.

"The Modi government has already created the foundation and framework of the regeneration," Akbar added.

The BJP now rules on its own -- or in alliance -- the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Since sweeping the Lok Sabha last year, the BJP has also been on a winning spree in state after state. The only reversal came in Delhi where it was routed by the Aam Aadmi Party in February.

The BJP meeting will review its membership drive. The BJP says it now has about 8.8 crore members, making it the biggest political party in the world.

Akbar said the membership drive was "an extraordinary achievement" of the party president and that the BJP had gained in strength even in states where it has been traditionally weak.

The party will adopt a political and an economic resolution at the national executive meet. The latter would focus on Modi's 'Make in India' campaign, a key focus area for the government.

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First Published: Wed, April 01 2015. 16:52 IST