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Virendra Kapoor | June 23, 2003
Only a letter-and-a-half separate the Hindi word chintan, meaning introspection, from chinta, worry. But the gulf between what the Bharatiya Janata Party proclaimed its four-day meeting on the outskirts of Mumbai as, and what it really turned out to be, was much wider.
It was no Chintan Baithak. More like a 'chinta baithak.'
The leadership was unsure of its hold on the electorate. With the general election due in 2004, and the crucial polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Chhattisgarh scheduled later this year, the top brass wanted a formula to win back the people's confidence -- and hence the sitting.
Most worrying for the BJP was the prospect of Opposition unity. Till the other day, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was unacceptable to almost all non-BJP groups. Now, even Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, one of her biggest critics, is keen to certify her Indian credentials.
The leadership was also worried about the Uttar Pradesh situation. The party's core support group of Thakurs and Brahmins has deserted it, thanks to Bahujan Samaj Party leader and Chief Minister Mayawati.
In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the BJP faces another kind of problem. Though it is expected to wrest these two states from the Congress in the assembly election, the leadership fears the anti-incumbency factor, which would bring it to power this year, might begin to work against it when the Lok Sabha election is held next year.
In Madhya Pradesh, they fear Uma Bharti as state chief minister could fritter away a lot of goodwill through her erratic behaviour by the time the general election is due.
All for all-India poll
Some BJP leaders now want simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
Party president M Venkaiah Naidu discussed the idea with senior leaders before the Chintan Baithak.
Earlier, Vice-President Bharion Singh Shekhawat had voiced simultaneous polls could help good governance since hard decisions were difficult when the nation was perennially in election mode.
Besides, he had pointed out, there would be huge savings on private and public expenses.
In tune, a senior BJP functionary said the Vajpayee government may try to club the Lok Sabha poll due next year with the assembly election.
Clean man Goel
Got to hand it to Vijay Goel.
Having done his bit to clean up the lanes and by-lanes of Old Delhi, this member of Parliament from Chandini Chowk has now undertaken to rid the Red Fort's lush green lawns of encroachers.
Lest the public not come to know of his deeds, Goel has come out with a 12-page tabloid in Hindi listing his `achievements'. The main story in it goes: 'Vijay Goel key kaam har jubaan par,' or Goel's good deeds are on every tongue!