The remaking of BJP

In three years under Amit Shah, party has not played second fiddle to government

Written by Anil Baluni | Updated: August 9, 2017 12:36:33 am
The BJP used to be referred to as the party that engaged only in “baithak”, “bhojan” and “vishram”. Amit Shah changed this mindset. (File)

In the last three years, the BJP has been on a remarkable journey. While the party romped home in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 with an unprecedented mandate, particularly in the tough electoral arena of Uttar Pradesh, it now has governments in 10 states out of the 16 that went to the polls since Amit Shah took over the reins of the party. At the three year mark of his party presidentship, and as he steps into the House of Elders, his greatest achievement is in ensuring that the BJP’s grassroots leaders occupy the top three posts — president, vice president and prime minister.

When Shah was asked to lead the party, many had questioned his political experience and declared him a novice having no connect with Delhi politics. What his critics forgot was the way in which he had transformed the party in UP which resulted in the BJP emerging as the unchallenged victor in 2014. This success was repeated in 2017.

In these three years, not only has the BJP’s geographical reach increased manifold, the party today rules 13 states and has coalition governments in four states. With 1,350 MLAs and 330 MPs in its kitty, it’s the largest political entity in the country today. Even in states where the party is considered weak, it has managed to make impressive vote gains. Be it elections for local bodies or for Lok Sabha, Shah personally choreographs the party’s victory march.

The BJP used to be referred to as the party that engaged only in “baithak”, “bhojan” and “vishram”. Shah changed this mindset. Through his persistent hard work and dogged commitment, and his out-of-the-box thinking, he has taken the party to the level where no Opposition party or coalition is in a position to challenge its supremacy.

There are several examples that speak of his political acumen. For instance, the mega membership campaign by giving a “missed call”. Political pundits and sceptics criticised it, Opposition parties cried foul. But today, the BJP is the largest party in the world with over 11 crore active members.

It is widely perceived that after a party comes to power, the organisation starts playing second fiddle to the ruling dispensation. But under Shah, the party is as relevant and vibrant as it used to be before its Lok Sabha success. The organisation’s role is as important and it is crucial in assisting the government.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government creates welfare programmes like the Jan Dhan Yojana, Jan Suraksha Yojana, Health Insurance Scheme, Ujjwala Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, Shah is ensuring their effective implementation through the party organisation.

Shah is committed to ensuring that the BJP’s roots are so deeply entrenched in the Indian political system that no one can easily uproot it. Through the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Karya Vistar Yojana workers are told about the achievements of the party and government, who then take the message to the masses. He has already sent 4 lakh party workers across India to ensure that his mission is accomplished.

It was unheard of in India’s politics that the topmost leader of the largest political party camps in Lakshadweep island for three consecutive days, working with booth-level workers. It is under Shah’s leadership that the North-East Democratic Alliance was formed. He takes keen interest in even local level elections which resulted in the BJP making significant gains in Odisha while in Maharashtra it has left its once dominant partner, the Shiv Sena, behind.

Since he took over the reins of the BJP, Shah has been on tour over 300 times, travelling an average of 541 km per day, and visiting 315 of 680 districts. During state elections he addressed 500 rallies, and ensured that workers till the booth level actively participated in the campaign. He was instrumental in holding training programmes for workers from the top levels to the bottom, which led to over 8 lakh BJP workers getting election-ready.

Shah is currently on a 110-day pan-India “Vistrit Pravas” (prolonged stay) visiting all states for at least two to three days. He is mingling with cadres, talking to booth level workers, exhorting leaders to further strengthen the party.

Addressing party workers after the election results in 2014, Prime Minister Modi had named Amit Shah as the “Man of the Match”. When the nation goes to polls in 2019, Shah’s hard work and strategising will strengthen the BJP’s bid for re-election and also shore up his own claim for “Man of the Series”.

The writer is head, BJP media cell

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