statesman news service
MUMBAI, 27 JUNE: The BJP’s campaign strategy for next year’s general election would be to oust “the corrupt” UPA government led by the Congress with a promise of good governance. Explaining how a frontal attack on the “vulnerable” Congress may brighten the NDA’s poll prospects, the BJP’s chief national campaigner and Gujarat chief minister Mr Narendra Modi today asked the functionaries of the party’s Maharashtra unit, to reach out to all districts of the state with the message.
On his first visit to Mumbai as a national leader, Mr Modi (afp photo) discussed the campaign strategy at the state BJP’s core committee meeting which was attended by all top leaders, except former national president, Mr Nitin Gadkari, who was away in New Delhi to attend an event at a foreign consulate.
The discussion covered several Parliament seats which the BJP lost by slender margins in 2009. The party would identify these constituencies in Marathwada and Vidarbha before putting in extra-efforts to win them back. Counting on his personal experience, the Gujarat Chief Minister told the Maharashtra leaders that anti-graft campaign and promise of good governance should win votes for the BJP.
From the core committee meeting venue at Rang Sharda in Bandra (east), Mr Modi drove to meet Shiv Sena president Mr Udhav Thackeray at his Matoshree bungalow a kilometre away. It is understood that the Maharashtra BJP highlighted the need to reinforce the Hindutva alliance with the Shiv Sena, its oldest partner of 24 years. The state BJP was disturbed by some write ups in Saamna, criticising Mr Modi.
Apparently, the Gujarat chief minister played it down and took the straight road to Matoshree. Mr Thackeray appeared satisfied with the talks as he, with a smile, walked with Mr Modi to his vehicle and saw him off.
The only unanswered question is how to convince Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Mr Raj Thackeray to cooperate with the BJP-SS combine and avoid division of votes.
The MNS’ rise since its inception nine years ago has been phenomenal, mostly at the cost of the Shiv Sena’s popularity. So far, the MNS president has frowned at “needless overtures” asking both Hindutva allies to mind their business. State BJP sources say the outcome depends on Mr Modi who is closer to Mr Raj Thackeray. However, on his recent visit to the city, BJP national president Mr Rajnath Singh had Mr Udhav Thackeray that the alliance between the two partners was unbreakable and the BJP could not even think of accommodating a “third partner”.  
Apart from the BJP general secretary for the state, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, those who briefed Mr Modi were BJP Maharashtra president Mr Devendra Phadnavis and deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Mr Gopinath Munde, who were present at the core committee