Amit Shah
File photo of BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi | PTI
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BJP’s National Convention beginning Friday at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan will have over 12,000 participants, including the party’s top brass.

New Delhi: In between its December 2018 assembly election losses in three heartland states and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to assess its position and draw up its future strategy at its two-day National Convention beginning Friday.

The mega event to be held at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan will have thousands participate, including the party’s top brass like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national president Amit Shah, Union Ministers, national and state office bearers, elected representatives as well as party workers.

While Shah will give the inaugural address, Modi is expected to deliver the concluding speech Saturday. The party is likely to adopt two resolutions — economic and political.

With the Lok Sabha elections barely months away and this being the last big meet of the party before that, BJP has much on its plate, including identifying the most effective electoral issues that have resonance on the ground, sharpening its campaign pitch and explaining to its leaders and cadre the crux and tone of the messaging to be adopted.


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Key issues

Highly placed sources in the party say the issues that are likely to dominate the two-day meet include farmers’ ire, youth disenchantment owing to lack of jobs, the recently passed bill for quotas to ‘poor’ in the general category, an outreach to the Dalit and backward communities, Hindutva-related aspects like the Ram temple, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the strategy to be adopted on the Congress’ Rafale attacks.

Discontent among farmers in large parts of rural India has ended up hurting the BJP electorally, seen most recently in the three state assembly polls.

The party leadership, sources say, is going to address this issue not just in the resolution to be adopted, but also in terms of explaining to its workers how to tackle the criticism on this front and what their talking points should be.

The party will underscore increase in MSP on crops, welfare schemes like rural housing, Ujjwala scheme, greater electrification and Mudra loans, while also outlining how to explain the benefits of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the average voter, be it through rallies, door to door campaigning or other interactions.

The BJP is looking to also tell the party ranks how to maximise on the use of Modi, who the party believes continues to remain a widely popular leader, especially among the youth.

As a part of this strategy, the personal attacks against him on the Rafale issue by Congress president Rahul Gandhi will be used to portray the “kamdaar” PM as a victim — a strategy repeatedly adopted by Modi himself.


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Message to voters

Importantly, the party’s rank and file will be asked to strike a balance between selling the new quota bill to the upper caste voters who have been upset with the BJP because of its Dalit outreach, while continuing the engagement with backward communities to expand electoral domain.

Sources say while the Ram temple issue is in the Supreme Court, the BJP leadership is aware of the need to not be seen as having failed to deliver to its hardcore Hindutva voter, cadre and the parent organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

“PM Modi has said once the court decides, the government will do all it can. This is precisely what we need to tell all our leaders and workers to convey to voters,” said a highly placed source in the party who did not wish to be named.

“But more importantly, we need to communicate what we have done on the Citizenship Bill and NRC (National Register of Citizens) and how it is the opposition that is stalling us,” said the source.

“While there is no way to control everything, the idea in such a large meet is to ensure there is greater synchronisation among party leaders as well as the absolute grassroots workers on what message to sell to voters on the most key issues,” said another party leader on condition of anonymity.

On a grand scale

The event is being organised on a scale not seen since 2010, with over 12,000 party workers and leaders expected to attend it, as against the usual 4,000.

The Delhi BJP, which is organising the convention, has formed 24 departments to take care of each aspect of the mega show.

Party leaders say councillors and general secretaries of districts not invited earlier have also been called as the party wants to show it is a united house which is war-ready.

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