New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s membership drive has caught the attention of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the largest party in the world until 2015 when the BJP surpassed it by enrolling 8.8 crore members.
BJP leaders, who were part of a delegation that visited China in the last week of August, told ThePrint that CPC officials had a lot of questions on the membership structure of the party: How did the BJP build its organisation in the past five years? How does the BJP use its party machinery during elections? How does the BJP conduct its membership drive?
“When we told them we have exceeded party members than what they have, they were quite shocked,” a BJP leader who was part of the delegation said. “They wanted to know how we have built the party, especially in the past five years. How we use the party machinery for elections.”
The 11-member BJP team, headed by general secretary Arun Singh, visited China at the invitation of the CPC between 26 August and 1 September.
The BJP leader quoted above said that even though the CPC does not contest elections, its members were curious about the phenomenal rise of the party under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. He added that they were stunned to learn that the BJP’s membership numbers are likely to touch 18 crore.
Need for a party to party, people to people interaction
The BJP delegation stressed on the fact that while there is government to government interaction, there is a need for a party to party and people to people connect too. The visit by BJP leaders comes in the run-up to the second edition of an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, which will be held in Mamallapuram between 10-12 October.
“We told them that there is a need to enhance party to party interaction on specific topics including trade, health, education, culture among others,” the BJP leader.
The popularity of Bollywood was also a point of discussion, with the CPC leaders asking India to leverage that. “They told us that Bollywood movies are quite popular in China and have a lot of demand and this should be explored further,” said a senior BJP leader.
The BJP delegation met CPC standing committee member Ye Zhenqin, Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the CPC’s international department and Song Tao, the head of the international department.
They also handed over a letter from Home Minister Amit Shah addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. A CPC delegation is expected to visit India soon, details of which are being worked out.
‘Made India’s stand clear on Article 370’
The BJP leader said the CPC members told them that the Modi government’s move of doing away with Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir had changed the dynamics between India and China. However, the BJP delegation asserted that it is an internal matter of the party and there has been no change in the existing boundaries, he added.
The BJP faced a big perception battle as the public had questioned the need for the visit, with China openly criticising India’s move on Article 370, the Indian delegation told the CPC leaders.
“Article 370 is completely an internal matter of India and there has been no change in India’s map or boundaries. Because of China’s views and actions on the global platform we fought a perception battle in India and despite that we wanted to continue with our visit,” said Vijay Chauthaiwale, who heads the BJP’s foreign policy department. “This is a clear indication that we are keen to continue the dialogue process.”