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As AAP leaders make beeline to Gujarat, BJP MPs to bond with workers over chai, ‘keep flock intact’

BJP has told MPs to ensure that 'no one leaves' the party' over not getting a ticket or any other grievance, and that there's greater involvement of party workers in activities.

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New Delhi: With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) creating a buzz in Gujarat, and top AAP leaders frequently visiting the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swung into action to keep its flock together ahead of elections to the 182-member assembly slated for later this year.

The BJP has directed its MPs to ensure that “no one leaves” the party “in case they are denied a ticket or over any other grievance” and that there is greater involvement of party workers in activities.

Given that the AAP doesn’t have any political base in the state, the party may be looking to make up for this by roping in BJP leaders — a strategy that the BJP followed in many states where it didn’t have much presence.

With an early election expected, the BJP’s preparations have kicked into high gear, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to visit next month, ThePrint has learnt.

Gujarat BJP chief C.R. Paatil has asked party MPs and leaders of BJP page committees (five-member panels formed for each page of the electoral roll) to visit the members over chai and build a rapport with them, especially with the start of the festival season, according to party sources.

The BJP has in the past credited these grassroots-level page committees for its win in municipal as well as assembly elections.

“Paatilji stressed that we need to strengthen the party at the grassroots-level and hence senior leaders, including party MPs, need to use the festival period to visit the homes of page committee members as well as voters,” said a senior BJP leader from Gujarat.

Paatil had given the directions while addressing a gathering of page committee members in Anand, where he also inaugurated the district Kamalam office.

Last week, party president JP Nadda was in Gujarat for two days to meet MPs and senior leaders, and he too asked them to ensure greater connect with workers at the grassroots level and to resolve grievances, if any.

The BJP, in power in Gujarat since 1995, is trying to improve the double-digit seat tally it recorded in the 2017 state elections. The Congress had then put up a tough fight, winning 78 seats and confining the BJP to 99.

The BJP is also concerned about AAP’s concerted attempt to emerge as the principal challenger in Gujarat. The fledgling party has already gained some ground in the state — in the municipal elections last year, the AAP secured 28 per cent of the vote in Surat, 21 per cent in Gandhinagar, and 17 per cent in Rajkot.

Also read: As AAP threat looms, Gujarat BJP plans to use ‘aides’ of potential rebels to help prevent revolt

‘These elections are crucial’

The BJP, according to sources in the party, is concerned that its Gujarat election campaign might be affected with the start of the festival season, and has thus asked all workers to use the period to reach out to the public as well as to grassroots-level members.

A second senior BJP leader said: “Apart from visiting the homes of page committee members, party MPs and senior BJP leaders should also make rounds of villages and meet people. But (they were told not to) go in large groups, (not to) use it for publicity, and to carry out small meetings, which are more effective in conveying the party’s stand as well as the work of the state government.”

According to the leader, after Nadda’s visit last week, Union home minister Amit Shah is already in Gujarat for a two-day visit and PM Modi is likely to land there on October 10.

On Nadda’s visit, a BJP MP who attended his meeting with leaders said: “The meeting w was attended by most MPs and the message from Naddaji was quite clear — that every MP needs to take responsibility for his constituency and ensure that the maximum seats are won.”

“Naddaji said these elections are quite crucial as they come ahead of the 2024 (Lok Sabha) elections. He also asked the MPs to ensure no party worker leaves the BJP in case they are denied a ticket or over any other grievance. It was also stressed that BJP MPs need to have greater connect at the grassroots-level and greater involvement at the level of booth and Shakti Kendra,” he added.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: Taking the battle to the adversary’s school gate: AAP in Gujarat, BJP in Delhi

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