The BJP is set to launch an extensive exercise to re-energise its cadres and organisation in Gujarat as it gears up for Assembly elections later this year. This will be the first election in a decade and a half without Narendra Modi at the helm in the state.
The party will conduct a nine-day contact programme in 48,000 booths simultaneously from May 28. In those nine days, 48,000 specially picked BJP workers will be asked to organise mass-contact programmes and conduct workshops, register new members, meet key voters and visit places of cultural and religious importance in their respective regions. They will be asked to organise a cleanliness drive too, party sources said.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who has launched a 95-day expansion tour of the country, is likely to spend three days during the mass-contact phase visiting booths.
The BJP, which has 121 members in the 182-member Assembly, has launched a Mission 150 slogan. The target was set after the party’s spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Banners and posters with “UP mein 325, Gujarat mein 150’’ had already appeared in the state.
“The party will not let Modiji’s absence be felt in the state,”said a senior leader. Pointing out that Modi’s leadership has placed a “consistent, continuing and stable development model” and a “strong and capable organisation” in Gujarat, the leader added that the party’s focus would be on “how to take both forward” post-election. Under Modi’s leadership, the BJP has won 127 seats in 2002, 117 in 2007 and 115 in 2012 state polls.
With the state unit coming directly under Shah, performance of the party will be a prestige issue for him. Although some political observers pointed out that this would be the toughest election for the BJP in Gujarat since 2001, party leaders assert that the BJP’s prospects are brighter after the recent election performances.
The BJP will finalise a formula for seat distribution and a campaign strategy soon.
The BJP government faced embarrassment during the Patel agitation last year and the Dalit protests in the wake of cow vigilantism. The developments followed a leadership change — then CM Anandiben Patel was replaced by Vijay Rupani. BJP leaders claimed that such issues are under control.