Amit Shah’s visits with famous people are a tactic to attract TV cameras and market ‘Brand Modi’ for 2019. It is so much easier than engaging with the media directly.
Taking a leaf out of Narendra Modi’s international travel, Amit Shah has also been touring the country as part of the BJP’s latest campaign ‘Sampark for Samarthan’. Shah is meeting people – only famous ones – to gather support for the party. He has, so far, met several eminent personalities, from business tycoon Ratan Tata and cricketer Kapil Dev to former army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag.
These visits are a tactic to attract eyeballs, in this case TV cameras, to market ‘Brand Modi’ all over again for 2019. It is so much better and easier for the BJP than engaging with the media directly.
A celebrity magnet
Why does the BJP need such a ‘sampark’ drive, especially when it is in power at the Centre and in 22 states? Is it a desperate cry for Shakti pradarshan? After all, when you meet a celebrity, it’s a force multiplier. It’s different from meeting ordinary people. The BJP recently lost a series of bypolls, but managed to win Palghar Lok Sabha constituency. In the process, however, it lost an important ally, the Shiv Sena.
Let us look back at the race to the 2014 elections when neither Modi nor Shah took time out from their campaign schedule to meet these celebrities. It was the other way around. Celebrities and eminent people from all walks of life flocked the then Gujarat CM’s office for photo opportunities. Modi rarely went to meet celebs for samarthan or sampark, unless it was Rajinikanth.
Celebs like John Abraham, Vivek Oberoi, Paresh Rawal, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Paul Dhinakaran sought him out in Gujarat. Tollywood artists too met him in Hyderabad during his national election campaign.
However, BJP president Amit Shah ‘physically’ reaching out to the celebrities this time shows the nervousness in the party.
Also, many of the celebrities who met Modi ahead of 2014 elections were vocal on issues such as rising fuel prices, multi-crore scams and a ‘puppet’ prime minister. They echoed the voice of opposition in the country. Today, most of our celebrities have been hushed into complicit silence.
Shah, who is considered the brain behind the party’s soaring success, is known to stay aloof from such meet-and-greet programmes. He is usually most comfortable meeting loyal party karyakartas. Clearly, there is now a grudging realisation that the IT cell propaganda isn’t going to guarantee the BJP a home run in 2019.