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Induct rather than ally is BJP’s growth strategy

Birender Singh, Ram Kripal Yadav recruited and rewarded, party set to replicate tactic across states

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
November 12, 2014 1:19:17 am
cabinet_m President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the newly sworn-in ministers at their oath taking ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. (Source: PTI)

Some of the faces in Narendra Modi’s cabinet, before and after the weekend’s expansion, reflect the BJP’s strategy for states where it has set out to expand its base. With Rao Inderjit Singh earlier and with Birender Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav now, the BJP has put its faith in mass leaders freshly inducted from rival parties, especially if their mass base runs across a community, rather than bank on alliances to provide such leaders.

Party leaders said they would carry on with the same tactic in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Jammu and Kashmir.

“The party will look at individuals with credibility and mass support at local level. Assimilating personalities and small community groups is the best way to get acceptability in regions where the party has been limited in its efforts to expand,” said a senior leader.

About the elevation of fresh recruits, the leader said, “If you are talented and have people behind you, you will be recognised in the BJP. Leaders know that their career is almost ending in other parties. The BJP will not overlook your strengths.”

While Rao Inderjit wields his influence among Yadavs in south Haryana, Birender Singh was projected as the BJP’s Jat face. Having snapped its alliance with the HJC in Haryana and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the BJP is not keen to tie up with well-entrenched regional parties in other states either.

In Jammu and Kashmir, although the party had initiated talks with the PDP, it has given up on the idea of an alliance ahead of the polls .

The BJP has roped in former Congress MP Lal Singh, Congress leader Karan Singh’s son Ajatshatru and some Muslim leaders, and is in talks with former separatist leader Sajjad Lone.

“The BJP no longer feels the need for alliances with established parties and wants to expand on its own. In states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal where we have limitations, getting faces with a mass base will be an effective strategy,” said a BJP general secretary. He admitted the RSS’s cadre and the BJP’s own network are not enough to grow in these states.

In Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, the party has roped in “famous personalities including from cinema”. Said Shrikant Sharma, national secretary of the BJP: “People are in queue to join the BJP. You will see more people joining the BJP. The Prime Minister has become a brand for governance and pro-development people want to join us.”

From the assembly poll results in Maharashtra and Haryana, the BJP no longer counts the Congress as a strong opponent. “This is an indication that Congress is increasingly losing its support base and the BJP, for the time being, will have to focus on regional personalities,” a leader said. In the crucial states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, regional parties are the major rival. “So, spreading out using the influence of well-known personalities will be a better tactic,” said another leader.

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