Its been more than two years and both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had already realised that expecting to repeat 2014- when the party won 282 seats- in the next Lok Sabha elections would be complacency. Both, as well as the other leaders of the party, had put their heads together to identify around 115 seats from the regions it has not been able to do well so far.
Even its opponents would agree that no one can match the BJP in strategy planning and the ability to make the leaders work hard. While the state leaders are asked to come to Delhi for meetings and guidance, the active members of the party often get circulars from the national headquarters listing the programs and the campaign they have to take up. The party MPs quip that only leaders with RSS background can keep up the pace the leadership is expecting out of them.
But the leaders are also aware that just programs and propaganda alone would not make the party victorious again, despite the absence of a visible strong opposition national party. BJP’s strongholds, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, have already touched the maximum in terms of the number of seats the party can win from. Even Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP marked a massive victory with 70 (two won by its ally Apna Dal) of 80 thanks to the Modi wave and Amit Shah’s carefully crafted political strategy, there is nothing more to gain from. Retaining these seats also would be tough due to the anti-incumbency factor against the central government or the poor performance of the sitting lawmakers.
So, the party had to explore new “frontiers” for coming back to power. Shah had told party leaders to identify seats from Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and North eastern states. Now that the party has zoomed in on around 115 seats, the state core committees are expected to make their respective state-specific plans by mid-October. The top leadership would finalise the strategy.
While in Odisha, the growing dissatisfaction among the tribals and the backward caste groups against the third-term regime of the BJD government would have to be cashed in on, it has to be community consolidation formula that has to be worked in Kerala. The disintegration of existing opposition parties in West Bengal had already provided conducive atmosphere for the BJP, in Andhra Pradesh, the party strategy would be focused on the “central government’s assistance to the state in its initial years after the bifurcation.”
In North Eastern region, the BJP has been active for the last two years and it would have to intensify its political activities in the region. The party would also get the benefit of the region’s trait to stand with the central ruling party, leaders calculate.
The common thread to the plans for all the state would be a massive propaganda on the Modi government’s performance and its agenda. Reach out to people at the ground level, help the targeted audience get the benefits of the government schemes and ensure that the credit should go to the BJP government – this is what the Prime Minister keeps telling the party leaders and MPs in every meeting.
In the meetings, Modi asked MPs to organise meetings of women to explain the free-LPG connection scheme, Dalits to talks to about Stand Up program and youths on Skill development and Start-Up initiatives.
However, sloganeering and speeches would not win the votes to retain power. The success, they say, depends on the implementation of the programs and the feel-good factor it could create among voters.