As the BJP national council put its stamp of approval on his appointment as the party president here on Saturday, Amit Shah unspooled an ambitious membership programme, aiming at fresh catchment areas to scout for recruits, with new methods to draw them in.
Shah exhorted his workers to leave the imprint of the party’s ideology on the nation’s politics, replacing Congress vichaar with BJP’s vichaar. To begin with, they should ensure the BJP’s victory in the assembly elections in J&K, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, he said.
“For long, the Congress’s ideology has been predominant in the country’s politics,” Shah told the national council at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. “Now the time has come to spread our ideology, and to leave an imprint on the nation’s politics,” he declared.
He asked party workers to set up counters at every college and university of India for an electronic enrolment of students in the party on a mass scale. “We will take them into our fold thereafter,” Shah said. The membership drive will begin from November 1, and the new president urged party workers to take up the task in right earnest.
Despite the BJP’s spectacular Lok Sabha victory, “the country is yet to be rid of Congress,” Shah said, stressing that “our cadres should keep this in mind”. They must ensure victory in the forthcoming polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand, he said. Party workers could not afford to be complacent; they would have to develop the “habit of winning elections at all levels”, Shah said.
The BJP president, who is credited with the party’s unprecedented electoral success in UP, is expected to think outside the box to consolidate its gains, and make inroads in states where it has traditionally not been strong. Shah got a standing ovation from the gathering, and was heaped with praises by every speaker from veteran L K Advani to Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is generally seen as Shah’s mentor, undertook to abide by all “directives of Adhyakshji”. The bonding between the two men was visible in their body language through the ceremony that took place under a large billboard, the four images on which summed up the BJP’s journey — Advani and Vajpayee on one side, Modi and Shah on the other.
Shah focussed individually on every poll-bound state. In Maharashtra, he said, “we will form a strong government as the Lok Sabha results indicate”, suggesting that the BJP’s old alliance with the Shiv Sena faced no danger.
On Haryana though, his tone was different. “We have to form a BJP government by winning more than 45 (of the total 90) seats even if there is an alliance.” Simplified, this meant that Shah wanted a BJP chief minister, irrespective of whether the party’s alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress held. In Jharkhand, Shah sought a “clear mandate” for the BJP, blaming the lack of development in the mineral-rich state on repeated fractured verdicts.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP president called for the elimination of “both families” (Abdullahs and Muftis). He mounted a scathing attack on the BJP’s former ally Nitish Kumar, who he said had “shamelessly sat in the lap of (RJD leader) Lalu (Prasad)”. “Nitish came to power saying he was fighting against jungle raj of Lalu… Now he has gone and sat in the lap of the same Lalu without any hesitation… There is no shame… We need to expose this immoral alliance (in Bihar),” Shah said.
Shah announced that henceforth, one central minister would be available at the BJP headquarters for two hours every day to accept requests from party workers and forward them to the minister concerned.