Delivering the inaugural address at the BJP’s two-day national executive meeting that began here, Shah “lauded” and “congratulated” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for his government's action against the so-called “urban naxalites”.
The national executive also decided to postpone BJP's organisational polls until after the Lok Sabha elections to enable Shah to lead the party in the crucial elections. Shah’s three-year term as party president was scheduled to end in mid-January.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who briefed the media on Shah’s speech, said the BJP chief didn’t specifically refer to the Opposition’s protests on the steep petrol and diesel prices, but he accused the opposition of indulging in “disruption-ist politics”.
If previous national executive meetings had a separate resolution on the state of the economy, it was conspicuous by its absence on the first day of the meeting. Instead, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tabled a resolution on agriculture, which detailed the several steps taken to increase farm incomes.
By evening, the Congress hit back. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the BJP's "stoic silence on real issues like petrol hike, inflation, falling rupee, falling economy and Rafale scam has once again proved its indifference to the sufferings of the people". Surjewala said the BJP now stood for "Break, Jam and Perish", as it was "breaking" the backbone of the micro, small and medium enterprise sector through its flawed goods and services tax, has "jammed" the economy through the demonetisation disaster and the future of youth and farmers has "perished".
In his speech, Shah detailed the Modi government’s policies for the poor, youth, women and farmers. On economy, he asked the party workers to “challenge (Congress leader) P Chidambaram and company" to come for "a debate based on facts and not propaganda".
Apart from Chidambaram, former Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh has also been criticising the Modi government’s performance on economy. Shah said the difference between the current PM and the former PM was their positions in their respective parties. While Modi led his party, Singh was known to follow his party, the BJP chief said.
Shah indicated the BJP would contest the forthcoming assembly polls, and the subsequent Lok Sabha polls, on the twin planks of identifying the Congress as a “breaking India” party that had made common cause with “urban naxalites”, while the Modi government during its tenure had worked on “making India” through its 126 schemes.
Shah asked the party workers to celebrate the upcoming festival of Diwali with the common people of the country who had benefitted from the government’s schemes. He specifically mentioned 15 of these schemes, including giving the statutory status to the backward class commission — the first government to do so since 1955, when the first backward class commission was set up under Kakasaheb Kalelkar.
In a symbolic gesture towards the Dalit community, the national executive meeting was held at the B R Ambedkar International Centre at Janpath. While Shah didn't specifically refer to the recent protests by upper castes, he said the Modi government had done significant work to accord respect to Ambedkar. The national executive also noted the contribution of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the party’s cause, with Shah noting that this was the first national executive meeting of the party in the absence of Vajpayee.
The BJP was founded on April 6, 1980, and Vajpayee was one of the founders. He recounted the major achievements of the Vajpayee government.
Shah said the Opposition moving the no-confidence motion against the Modi government during the monsoon session of Parliament, even when it neither had the numbers nor was there any significant anger against the government among the people, was evidence of it being in a “denial mode”. Shah called the ‘mahagatbandhan’, or grand alliance, of Opposition parties an “eyewash” and “illusion” based on falsehoods. He said the party should not only focus on winning elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, but improve its performance in Telangana, and focus on forming governments in states like West Bengal and Odisha.
On Assam's National Register of Citizens, Shah said over the years the issue of illegal immigrants in the northeast has been discussed at least in nine separate national executive meetings.
He said the BJP would "not allow even one more infiltrator", and that is slated to be its election campaign.
The BJP chief said the Modi government would ensure the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that would enable India to give refuge to "Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians" facing persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh "without any hesitation".
The Modi government's successes in the economic sphere include identification and closure of 300,000 shell companies, doubling of those filing Income Tax returns and increase in the gross domestic product with India on the cusp of overtaking the UK, Shah said, adding the Modi government's initiative of 'GEM', or government e-marketplace, which is a national procurement platform, has led to savings of '220 billion.
The BJP chief said the party would commemorate the anniversary of surgical strikes as 'Shaurya Divas'.