Amit Shah’s target: Panchayat to Parliament, and every state

The National Executive is meeting for the first time after the BJP’s recent poll success

Written by Liz Mathew | Bhubaneswa | Updated: April 16, 2017 8:50 am
Amit Shah, Odisha polls, Odisha elections 2017, Assembly elections 2017, Narendra Modi, BJP Odisha, india news, Odisha news Amit Shah in Odisha. (PTI Photo)

BJP president Amit Shah exhorted partymen on Saturday to ensure that the party wins “from panchayat to Parliament” and “every state”, and that the country achieves its place among the comity of nations. It was only then that he would call it the BJP’s “golden era”, Shah said.

“Sixty per cent of the political space is already occupied by the BJP. But we cannot sit idly, resting on our laurels,” Shah was quoted as saying at the BJP National Executive, that began here on Saturday, by senior party leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“In 2014 it was said that the BJP had reached its peak. The BJP continued its victory streak. In 2016, it was again said that the BJP had reached its peak. But our party president said the BJP is yet to reach its peak. We have 13 CMs, we want all states to have BJP CMs,” Prasad said.

The BJP chief asked party office-bearers and ministers to spend 15 days each month to reach out to workers to the booth level, covering five states and UTs, giving three days to each. Shah himself will be visiting Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala and Gujarat, Prasad said, apart from spending 95 days till September visiting polling booths across India to have “a profound connect with every booth worker in the country”.

“We have to pledge that the BJP should be there from the panchayats to Parliament. Every state should see this, in every state, we have to take the BJP to power. Once we achieve that, we can say that the BJP’s golden era has come,” Shah told over 300 National Executive members, including ministers.

“It should not just be the party’s success but the country’s success as well,” he added. “We should see to it that the country reaches a high position among the comity of nations. Once we achieve that, we can say the BJP’s golden era has come.”

The National Executive is meeting for the first time after the BJP’s recent poll success, resulting in the party forming governments in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. It is the first time in 20 years that the party is holding its National Executive in Odisha, which is high on the list of states that the BJP wants to win.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a roadshow on his four-km ride to the National Executive from the Bhubaneswar airport, leaning out of his vehicle and stepping out to greet supporters who lined the roads.

At the beginning of his speech, Shah talked specifically of states going to polls next, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, and said that the BJP was taking a resolve, “in this land of the Jagannath temple”, to win all with a massive majority.

Shah talked about political violence in states such as Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura, warning, “I want to tell those who are unleashing violence on BJP workers in Kerala and West Bengal that if you want to suppress us with violence, the BJP will rise more. BJP workers do not get scared of violence. We will work peacefully, with determination.”

Taking on the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, Shah said it had failed on almost all fronts. “The hard work and struggles of Odisha BJP workers would soon bear fruit. The next government in Odisha would be the BJP’s.”

EVMs an excuse, accept defeat: Shah

Questioning the Opposition’s criticism of EVMs, Amit Shah said it was an “insult to the authority of the Election Commission”. Accusing the Opposition of “not accepting defeat gracefully”, he said, “It is expected that defeated parties accept their loss with honesty. But now they are finding excuses.”

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Shah had pointed out that when the UPA won in 2004 and 2009 and when the AAP won in Delhi, when the BJP was defeated in Bihar and when the Congress won in Punjab, the same EVMs were used. “The Opposition has today no answer to our 325 seats and three-fourth majority, and so they are making EVMs and other excuses,” Shah said.

Responding to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s comment that he had ways to hack EVMs, Prasad said, “A Chief Minister, an alumnus of IIT, claimed that EVMs can be tampered in 70 ways. We didn’t expect a CM to claim himself to be a hacker.”

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