PINNING THEIR hopes on party’s Lok Sabha and Assembly elections’ performance in 2014, the BJP is all prepared for the upcoming civic elections and hopes that the party will make a sweep this time.
The party hopes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity would have an impact during the polls despite having an MP and eight legislators elected from the city. BJP has got 26 members elected to PMC in 2012, which was just one more than its previous tally of 25 in 2007. However, in 2014, the BJP candidate, riding on the Modi wave, won Lok Sabha elections with a record margin, followed by the party winning all the eight assembly seats from the city. The outcome raised high hopes for the BJP to grab power in the civic body and has now the party faces the challenge to retain confidence of voters.
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The BJP, with no popular face from within the city, is relying on its national and state leaders for the civic polls. It is trying hard to get the Prime Minister to lay the foundation stone of the Metro rail project in city, which is all set to be tabled in the Cabinet for approval, ahead of civic polls.
To strengthen its base in the city through local civic body, the party organised state executive committee meetings a few months ago and has been planning a strategy. It is the first party that has already started a dedicated office for civic elections, recently inaugurated by state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve. The party started its work at the local level by setting up a network of party workers.
The BJP to consolidate its position has been tapping leaders from other political parties as it struggles to get candidates from within the party cadre. “The BJP does not have strong candidates in the suburbs and slums, so the party is inducting sitting corporators or leaders from other parties,” said Sanjay Kakade, Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader.
Different factions of the city BJP were trying to get leaders from other parties in its fold but their move was mired in controversy with criticism over leaders with criminal background being inducted. This led the state BJP to intervene and urge the local leaders to not rush with the exercise of roping in leaders from other political parties without verifying the credentials.
During his recent visit, state BJP chief clarified the party would not induct any leader with criminal background in the party and would not assure party ticket to anyone. “The party has a system in place. A survey would be carried out before finalising the candidates so that no one is assured of a party ticket. There are many sitting corporators of other parties wishing to join the BJP,” said Guardian Minister Girish Bapat.
Senior BJP leader said the party has done its homework for the civic polls and is working accordingly to win maximum possible seats. “The party has a plan for each electoral panel. It has identified candidates from within the party wherever possible and from other parties where it doesn’t have a strong candidate,” he said, adding a lot is at stake for the party for PMC polls as the performance is going to be compared with the winning Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in 2014.
The BJP performance in 2014 left other political parties, including Shiv Sena, upset as they had been critical of BJP since it came to power in state and centre. On the other hand, the BJP too has been trying to hit back at NCP blaming them for all that has ailed the city for the last 10 years.