BJP’s election strategy for MP

L.S. Herdenia

BJP national president Amit Shah virtually launched the campaign for the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections scheduled for next year. During a three-day stay here, he interacted with organisational functionaries, ministers, former party MPs and MLAs, prominent citizens, intellectuals, literacy persons and also sadhu-sants.
At the outset, Shah made it clear that the elections will be fought under the leadership of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, setting at rest speculations that Chouhan may not be considered for another term. "I give him 100 marks out of 100," Shah declared. The BJP chief's statement comes in the backdrop of intense speculation in the last few weeks that Chouhan may be invited to join the central cabinet. But Chouhan has always rejected reports about a possible move to Delhi.
“These are all rumours. I am going to stay here and help the party win the assembly elections in 2018 for the fourth consecutive time," Chouhan had told reporters.
Shah, however, did not comment on whether state BJP chief Nandkumar Singh Chouhan would get an extension. He recently completed three years in office – the usual tenure for state BJP heads. Praising the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government at another event, the BJP president said that the bimaru (laggard) tag has been removed from BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
"We expect no less than 200 seats in the assembly and all 29 seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections," Shah told party workers at the BJP regional head office. Defending demonetization and GST, Shah said: "BJP has taken several decisions that could be considered as bitter pill for society. But all such decisions were in the interest of a better future. BJP is not here for political gains or garnering votes but to make our nation a Vishwa Guru," Shah said while addressing a gathering of intellectuals. 
Shah asked party men to be in an "all-time election mode." In a bid to strengthen the party base ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, he reviewed the working of heads of districts and party fronts hinting strict action in case of poor performance.
"No significant work has been assigned to party workers in districts. How will they perform?" Shah is learnt to have asked during the review meeting of party conveners and morcha heads at the state party headquarters. The BJP chief took to task the leaders over the working of the party district units and frontal organizations, expressing dissatisfaction over lack of grassroot level participation. He said with barely a few months left for the assembly polls, it is essential that the party strengthens itself at the block and mandal levels.
Within hours of Shah making the statement, former CM Babulal Gaur staked his claim for ministership. "When a 75-plus person can contest elections, he can also be a minister," he said. Gaur said organisational general secretary Ramlal and state BJP in charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe had demanded his resignation in the name of the 75-plus formula, adding, "Shah has now made everything crystal clear." Former minister Sartaj Singh also said he was asked to resign on the ground that Shah had decided that no person above the age of 75 would continue as a minister. He said he would like to contest the 2018 elections provided the party nominated him.
Eyebrows were raised when Shah accepted a lunch invitation from minister Narottam Mishra, who has been debarred from contesting elections for the next three years by the Election Commission. Mishra has challenged the Commission's verdict in the Supreme Court, which has stayed the operation of the Election Commission order.
Shah also had prolonged interaction with former party MPs and MLAs who had a number of grievances against the government and party leadership. The former MPs and MLAs exploded with rage before the party president. As soon as Shah asked them to have their say, there was a torrent of angry statements and acerbic comments targeted at the government and the party organisation. They said that they were being treated with disdain by the state party leaders. “We are not invited to functions and when ministers in-charge of the districts come visiting, they do not meet us. We are ignored at every level.” After hearing them, Shah said he was working on an action plan. “Within next two months, all former MPs and MLAs will get some responsibility,” he said.
During his speeches at various forums he touched upon matters of national importance. He said that the Ram temple should be built at Ayodhya either through a court order or 'aapsi sahmati' (agreement) among the parties involved.
''The issue has figured in every election manifesto of BJP since the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya in December 1992. The Ram temple at Ayodhya should be built either through consensus among the parties involved or through a court order,''.
Praising the Narendra Modi government for its handling of the Kashmir issue, he said: ''The Centre is dealing with both separatists and terrorists very seriously. I believe that both BJP and the central government are tackling the Kashmir issue seriously. In the last two-three months we have seen very good results. The government is moving on the rights track.''
Asked about Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said it can be discussed among political parties. ''If the government is asked to make its stand clear in court, then the Centre will discuss it with all political parties before taking any stand. But at this moment, it would be inappropriate to comment, he said.''
Overall Shah left the impression that he is a hard task master. His behaviour can be compared with a tough headmaster. (IPA)

Friday, 1 September, 2017