Rolling out a blueprint for 350-plus seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP president Amit Shah, sources said, told core members of the party that Mission 350-plus will have special focus on 150 seats in what the BJP calls its new catchment areas.
At the meeting chaired by Shah and attended by eight Union Ministers, a presentation was made, incorporating feedback and suggestions from state units to strengthen the party. These included inputs gathered during Shah’s tour of states.
The BJP chief is learnt to have assigned a cluster of five Lok Sabha seats each to Union Ministers, leaders in the organisation and state ministers called to the meeting.
Shah is learnt to have told party leaders that the BJP will conduct frequent surveys — once in three or four months — to get a feel of the “pulse from the ground” and strategies will be altered accordingly. There will be extra focus and thrust on 150 seats, mainly in states like West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala where the party is trying to emerge as a key electoral player.
The meeting, sources said, was attended by Union Ministers J P Nadda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, Ananth Kumar, Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Manoj Sinha. Also present were Uttar Pradesh minister Swatantra Dev Singh, BJP national secretary Mahendra Singh (Assam in-charge) and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar.
Nadda and Sinha, sources said, have been assigned West Bengal, while Ravi Shankar Prasad has been assigned Lok Sabha seats in Assam. Likewise, Dharmendra Pradhan has been assigned seats in Kerala while Piyush Goyal will be looking after seats in Tamil Nadu and Nirmala Sitharaman in Karnataka.
“Senior ministers with broad organisation experience have been assigned these roles along with senior party office bearers and some state leaders,” a BJP source said.
The ministers and leaders are expected to make regular visits to these Lok Sabha seats and coordinate with local units to prepare for the 2019 elections.
Last September, a core committee meeting of the BJP had identified 115-120 seats from Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the North-East. Shah, who has been on a 95-day tour of the country to strategise on ways to secure a clear majority in 2019, is learnt to have identified 150 seats, where the party lost in 2014 but hopes to win next time.
The BJP has identified 600 full-time workers who will be deputed to Lok Sabha constituencies until the 2019 elections — a full-time worker will be sent to monitor each Lok Sabha seat.
The BJP had assessed that it may just be difficult to hold on to the party’s position in some states, especially in the Hindi heartland. The new blueprint focuses on 150 seats to compensate for possible losses elsewhere. In 2014, the BJP-led NDA had won 72 of 80 seats in UP, 42 of 48 in Maharashtra, 31 of 40 in Bihar, all 26 in Gujarat, all 25 in Rajasthan, 25 of 28 in Madhya Pradesh, and 7 of 10 in Haryana.