New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has increased its cadre by almost 50 per cent, with the party adding 4 crore members nationally in its latest membership drive that ended Tuesday.
With the expansion, sources in the BJP said, the party now has 15 crore members, up from 11 crore. The membership drive was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi on 6 July.
Party sources said that one of the biggest gains in the drive has been in West Bengal, where the party registered a 140 per cent rise in membership, with 35 lakh people joining it in the state. The BJP, sources said, earlier had 25 lakh members in the state; this has now risen to 60 lakh members.
In sheers numbers, however, Uttar Pradesh topped the charts with 60 lakh new members entering the party fold in addition to the existing 90 lakh members, according to a state unit functionary.
A senior BJP leader said the party has more reasons to cheer as the numbers are only from online registrations.
“We had earlier set a target of 2 crore members, which was revised to 5 crore and we have already crossed 4,” the leader said. “So far we have only looked at online data but many have become members through offline modes. That data is being collated and will be calculated. We are confident of crossing the 5-crore mark.”
A shot in the arm in West Bengal
The membership drive is another shot in the arm for the BJP in West Bengal, a state it has been making inroads in following an impressive Lok Sabha performance. The party is now gearing up for the municipal and assembly elections in the state and is trying to expand its base up to the booth level.
According to a West Bengal BJP functionary, the offline data, which is to be released later this week, will provide the party with a clearer picture.
The BJP is already being seen as a threat by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who recently hired political strategist Prashant Kishor to manage her campaign for the 2021 assembly elections.
Sources said that the party has also added 14 lakh new members in Delhi, where assembly elections are due to be held next year, while in Jammu and Kashmir, the drive has managed to get over 10 lakh members so far.
‘Popularity of Modi, scrapping of 370 behind surge’
The senior BJP leader quoted above attributed the surge in membership to Modi’s popularity and the government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir.
Explaining the process, another senior BJP leader said that one lakh vistaaraks (these include MPs, MLAs, state unit presidents among others) held door-to-door campaigning, camps, visited market areas, bus stops etc to get more people into the party’s fold.
The party had earlier undertaken a membership drive through missed calls but this time, party workers were asked to visit booth level members to verify their authenticity, the leader said.
He added that after 20 August, the party will run a campaign to create active members (members who take part in party activities), dates for which will be announced later.