To increase the party base and reap bumper harvest at the hustings, the BJP is on a spree to create cells. In the last one year, it has taken the number of its state-level cells to 31.
Every other city has cells unique to its demography, like Surat and Vadodara — where the migrant population is high — have cells unique to their character. Vadodara, with a total of 66 cells, is the highest for any city BJP unit in the country.
The party has also formed booth committees on nearly 42,000 polling booths of total 44,000 in Gujarat. The move is directed to target 100 per cent Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, where the party currently has 15 of the 26. With 44 lakh primary and 1.25 active members, the BJP today has nearly 2 lakh workers covering 3.98 crore voters in Gujarat.
“For the first time, the BJP now has communication cell, ati-pachhat (very backward) cell, antyoday cell (for poorest of poor of any caste and community), investor protection cell and Chartered Accountant Cell,” said BJP state cells convener Dr Anil Patel. “The aim is to include in the party ideology people from different walks of life by mobilising them,” he added.
Party sources say that many cells have been created at the city-level to please communities. For instance, the Barber cell, which was constituted about 8-9 months ago, has only 8 members so far out of about 2,500 barbers in the city, including the convenor Vishal Limbachya. While Limbachya says that the cell has been working to make life better for the barbers in Vadodara city, the main aim is to now “create awareness” about the party PM candidate Narendra Modi to clients. The “Machhimaar” (dishermen’s) cell in Vadodara has not been able to make any members so far, apart from the two convenors.
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Vadodara BJP’s maali (gardener) cell has 65 members, according to convenor Ganpat Mali. Suresh Dhobi of the dhobi (launderers) cell, which has about 58 members, says the aim is to reach 500 memberships, but the focus has now shifted to the upcoming elections. “We have been told that the members of the cell will look after the booths in their areas. Apart from this, we also have to ensure that the party gets maximum votes,” Dhobi says.
Vadodara BJP’s jyotish (astrologers) Cell is perhaps the most active. The cell was formed in August 2013 and has 107 “learned astrologers”. A K Mishra, convenor of the cell, says, “The intention is to promote religion and spirituality according to party lines and spread the message of the party. We are also conducting pujas and yagnas for the party’s success in the upcoming elections. We have been also checking the planetary star positions for the party.”
“I have been asked by our leaders to mobilise my community members and spread awareness about welfare schemes of the state government among them,” says Madha Barot, convenor of the ati pachhat cell in Rajkot city.
In Surat, unorganised workers cell is one of the biggest for the BJP. Convenor Suresh Soni said, “There are around 35,000 members in our cell and we work for unorganised workers’’.