New Delhi: Expanding the organisational base of the beleaguered Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by reaching out to minorities and Dalits is the first priority of its new chief Nitin Gadkari.
But Gadkari, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member, doesn't want to tamper with the BJP's ideology.
"There will be no ideological change (in the party) because of my arrival," he categorically said, at his first media conference after being nominated as the BJP president last week.
Gadkari vowed to take the party back to its lost glory after a flurry of setbacks in the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections recently -- the Jharkhand polls being the latest where the BJP bagged only 18 seats, 12 down from the 30 in 2005.
"In my next three years I have to expand the organisation base. We have to expand vote balance of the party. We will reach out to SC/ST (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes), unorganised labour and do more work for minorities," Gadkari said.
He said the belief that the BJP was anti-minority was far from the truth.
"I don't believe in discrimination on the basis of religion and language. No such discriminations are acceptable. But appeasement of minorities had become the definition of secularism and appeasement of terrorists has now become the definition of secularism," he said.
He asserted that his party was a "natural alternate" of the Congress and he would strengthen the BJP based on his political and organisational planning.
"Everybody for India and India for everybody is our philosophy," he said.
The BJP chief asked the party members to work for development and described politics as "an instrument for socio-economic change".
Summarizing his agenda, the BJP president said: "Nationalism is our inspiration, good governance and development are our means and progress of the underprivileged is our aim."
Gadkari also sought to put to rest reports of division within the party ranks after his name was proposed for the top position.
"BJP leaders are good. I was a junior activist and have been promoted to the top post despite the presence of stalwarts. Advaniji and Rajnathji said that they are standing behind me. They are supporting me fully."
He said indiscipline in the party will "not be tolerated".
"Discipline in the party is not something to talk about, it should be executed. Indiscipline will not be tolerated," he added.
First Published: Thursday, December 24, 2009, 15:47