Days after the BJP’s defeats in the by-elections to two Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly seat in Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday took recourse to allegory to tell party MPs that it is time for them to pull up their socks, with several Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections coming up over the next one year. Modi asked them to organise “tiffin parties” at polling booths to connect with party workers and voters.
Addressing party MPs at the BJP Parliamentary party meeting on Friday, Modi narrated the tale of a villager who did a yagna for many days for the good of the village, sources said. At the end of it, the villagers, for whom it was performed, came, had a meal and left, he reportedly told the MPs.
Modi reportedly urged MPs to reach out to the people in their respective constituencies, carry small “tiffins” to the booths, and talk to workers over food for better connect. “He emphasised the need to connect with people on the ground, workers and voters and said ‘tiffin pe charcha’ is a good way to do it,” according to a source privy to details of the meeting.
Modi described the Union Budget as one that is beneficial to both the poor and the middle class, and asked BJP MPs to fan out in their constituencies and talk about the various proposals in it, and tell people how the Budget will improve the quality of their lives, according to the source. He is said to have laid particular emphasis on taking to the masses the message about the National Health Protection Scheme, an ambitious plan to provide a Rs 5-lakh health cover each to 10 crore families.
He is learnt to have told the MPs that taking the message of the Budget to the people and breaking it down, so that people relate to it, will facilitate their own victory.
The development is significant not just because the BJP, which is in power in Rajasthan, lost the three bypolls in the state earlier this month but also because there are two more Lok Sabha by-elections coming up in Bihar. The BJP-JD(U) combine is in power in Bihar.
There is also a buzz, generated by Modi and other top BJP leaders, about simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and different state Assemblies, and speculation about early elections by the end of this year.
BJP president Amit Shah is learnt to have taken a strident stand on the Rafale fighter jet deal and told party MPs that the Congress has for no reason created a controversy over it. Whatever information was possible to be made public is already in public domain, and there is no question of giving any more information in the interest of national security, he reportedly said.
Shah, according to sources, also called “unprecedented” the way Congress targetted PM Modi and the way his speech was disrupted in both Houses. The entire top leadership of the BJP, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior leader L K Advani, were present in the meeting.