Prime Minister Narendra Modi entrusts 100 per cent responsibility to Amit Shah for a Modi hat-trick in 2024. This was made clear when Shah lost his cool on eight other union ministers at a high-level meet in Delhi because they had not risen to the expectations of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership. BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda wanted these ministers to be warned of the consequences of not doing their duty. Nadda stressed that they risked losing their ministerial positions if they did not fulfil the tasks assigned to them, which included going around 85 parliamentary constituencies in six states.
Tasking three senior Union ministers for more party work, Amit Shah ensured that at least three top opposition leaders must be politically, electorally and morally defeated. Shah told the attendees that Sharad Pawar’s Baramati and Uddhav Thackrey’s strongholds in Maharashtra were to be breached, while Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, aka KCR, had to be restricted to his state. For this, Shah has chosen Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to throttle Supriya Sule and K. Kavitha—the daughters of Sharad Pawar and KCR respectively. This is a master strategy. Amit Shah will interact with these three Ministers—Nirmala Sitharaman, Narendra Singh Tomar and Jyotiriaditya Scindia—on a weekly basis.
Preparing to strike
The “animal spirit” of Amit Shah was on full display according to a participant of the 6 September meeting. He felt that if BJP does not win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, there will be a backlash. A participant quipped that when Amit Shah was in a horrible mood, a few attendees whispered that the heads of some sitting Union ministers and a select 35-40 MPs may roll. They may not be given tickets in 2024. Such was the heated atmosphere that prevailed in the meeting.
It was the first time the source witnessed a red-faced Amit Shah. The BJP neither wants Hindutva to be defeated nor buried. BJP also felt that incomplete construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and restoring the statehood of Kashmir will be further derailed. A mega action plan is being drawn out by Shah, which will ensure that BJP and Modi return to power in 2024. Summing up his deliberations, JP Nadda said that the anger and anguish shown by Shah were all due to his experiences in conducting elections in 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2022. Two of them were Lok Sabha. The other two were elections of the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
The master of social engineering that he is, Amit Shah has a different plan of action for 2024—one that he has not spelt out. Before Diwali, Amit Shah is likely to hold a similar high-level meeting in Kolkata to review the Lok Sabha seats where BJP lost. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has been given the role of the Northeast Coordinator.
Stressing on the target of winning at least 72 of the 144 seats across several major constituencies, Shah said during the meeting that “This is quite possible. You all are experienced leaders who have contested several elections and have worked in the party at different levels.” The second phase of this plan will start from October.
The presentation listed the 144 Lok Sabha seats, including key constituencies held by the opposition, such as Raebareli and Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh, Baramati in Maharashtra, Jadavpur and some others in West Bengal, Mahabubnagar in Telangana and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh. The strategy entailed the involvement of senior Union ministers—including their stay in the constituencies—with a detailed plan to take stock of the situation, prepare data based on voters’ profiles and issues and channelise the party cadre at the lower level.
At any cost, TMC candidates and Shiv Sena nominees must be focused. They must be defeated. Especially Abhishek Banerjee
The first phase of the programme was to be completed by August-end, but the deadline has been extended by a month.
The BJP is working on a multi-pronged plan to win at least half of the 144 Lok Sabha seats it lost in recent elections, as part of a strategy to repeat—if not improve upon—its 2019 tally of 303 seats.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the party had won 21 seats more than it had won in 2014. The idea behind focusing on these 144 seats is that if the party loses a few seats in some states, it should be able to at least make up for the shortfall by winning new ones.
Most ministers at this meeting were of the view that continuing to reach out to the beneficiaries, especially Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs), would be of great benefit to the party in these Lok Sabha seats. In the next phase, the party has tasked the ministers with identifying suitable candidates for the 144 Lok Sabha seats. The party will also communicate to the local leadership to regularly organise protests, highlighting local issues in opposition-ruled states. Special media in-charges will be appointed in each Lok Sabha seat. The team will also try to convince the local media houses that are against the BJP. The social media team will be given a target of adding at least 50,000 followers on the party’s social media pages for these 144 Lok Sabha seats by December.
BJP general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh set the plan in motion when he made a presentation to the party leaders about two years ahead of the next general election.
The author tweets @RAJAGOPALAN1951. Views are personal.
(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)