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BJP seeks image makeover post-note ban to woo the poor

For the first time, a whole BJP national executive was focused on how a decision — note recall — will help the poor. It has also been associated with nationalism, a core BJP ideology.

Updated: Jan 10, 2017, 01.01 AM IST
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The party wants to make this a poll issue in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur with the hope that it will help breach the caste barrier.
The party wants to make this a poll issue in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur with the hope that it will help breach the caste barrier.
NEW DELHI: From being identified as a ‘Brahmin-Bania’ party that was close to corporates, post-note recall BJP is trying to project itself as one that stands for the welfare of the poor by fighting black money, corruption and tax evasion by the rich.

Resolutions passed at BJP conclaves in the past too would talk about Antyodaya or the welfare of the “last man in the queue”, an idea espoused by its ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, but the party’s demeanour left nobody in any doubt that for it the interest of the upper caste and traders was uppermost.

PM Modi, a former tea seller, too faced the charge of leading a “suitboot ki Sarkar”, a charge levelled by Rahul Gandhi, after he wore a `10-lakh suit while hosting US President Barack Obama. However, the government and BJP appear to have made a conscious effort in the last two years to change this perception.

For the first time, a whole BJP national executive was focused on how a decision — note recall — will help the poor. It has also been associated with nationalism, a core BJP ideology. The government’s new promise is that the money that comes back to the system would be used for the welfare of the poor. The party wants to make this a poll issue in UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur with the hope that it will help breach the caste barrier. This is a clear attempt by BJP to shed its image of being a right-wing party and acquire the image of a socialist party.

Union minister Uma Bharati even termed note recall as a Marxist step. The PM is also trying to make poll reforms a key issue. His primary focus has been transparency in poll funding. Some BJP leaders have been concerned about the party’s core voters getting antagonised and voting against the party (or sitting at home on poll day). The present slowdown in the economy post-demonetisation is affecting this section.

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