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BJP to select 1,200 women speakers, hold Booth ki Baat as it gears up for Assam poll fight

The women speakers, who will be selected via debate & song competitions, will popularise both central and state govt achievements in the run-up to the 2021 polls.

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New Delhi: Selecting 1,200 women speakers through competitions, organising conferences to galvanise support for the party, and inviting beneficiaries of central and state government schemes at various programmes are among the BJP’s big plans to fight the 2021 Assam elections.

State BJP leaders said the women speakers will popularise Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal government’s flagship programmes, besides the central dispensation’s achievements, in the run-up to the elections.

These speakers will act as catalysts at the ground level, meet beneficiaries of central and state government schemes and build the party’s narrative for ‘Mission Assam’.

Party leaders said these 1,200 women will be selected through ‘biya naam’ (marriage song) and debate competitions to be held from next month at 400 mandals. Singing ‘biya naam’ is one of the most significant activities in Assamese marriage ceremonies.

BJP sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called up CM Sonowal, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP state president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, state in-charge Baijayant Jay Panda last week to know the organisational preparedness for the elections and also discussed with them the party’s strategies.

Sources added Shah instructed the state unit to complete the formation of booth and mandal committees. The state unit apprised Shah of its plan to select women speakers through competitions.

Shah is likely to visit Assam next month to oversee the poll preparations.


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3 women speakers to be selected at every mandal

BJP leaders said at every mandal, three women speakers will be selected. The speakers will then be groomed by the party to be its next generation leaders.

“We will use good national speakers like Smriti Irani, Tejasvi Surya, Anurag Thakur to campaign in the elections, besides the prime minister, union home minister and BJP president J.P. Nadda. But we thought, we need ground-level speakers to popularise state government schemes,” said state BJP chief Dass.

“Through debate and ‘biya naam’ competitions, we will select grassroots women leaders, who will not only make the election campaign energetic, but they will be groomed as future leaders of the party too. We have 400 mandals and in every mandal, our target is to select three speakers. Imagine how many future leaders we will groom through this process,” he added.

BJP leaders said they will use the time between December and April, which is the marriage season, to find women speakers through marriage song competitions.

Dass said he learnt the nuances of oratory from BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, who was the state in-charge in 2006.

“He was a powerful orator after (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and he has laid a strong foundation of the BJP in Assam based on which the party has emerged as a dominant force in the state,” he said.

Dass added it is essential to have women future leaders in BJP’s political process. “Since women are leaders in Assam, so our focus is on women leaders,” he said.


Also read: Man claiming to be Assam BJP leader demands beef ban in zoo, party says he is not a member


‘Seen the power of women folk singers at CAA protests’

During protests against National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship (Amendment) Act last December and January-February this year, which were arguably the most turbulent in Assam, the BJP had used women to counter them.

Hundreds of women’s groups were formed, who participated in mass cultural programmes, in which they tried to convey to the people the benefits of CAA through folk songs.

Unlike the rest of India, CAA-NRC protests in Assam saw participation of several artistes, singers, and state intelligentsia.

But several of the anti-CAA protesters later joined the BJP. Among them was actor Jatin Bora, who had quit the party, but again rejoined, and singer Simanta Sekhar, who sang Akou Ebar Modi Sarkar (Once Again, Modi Government).

“We have seen the power of women folk singers and intelligentsia during the February protests. Our women folk singers countered the agitation (against CAA) to some extent. Now we are going to the polls, and we need women folk singers, intellectual leaders, who can assist the party in election campaigning,” said a state BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named.


Also read: BJP Assam MPs flag fear & confusion in state, say Modi govt pushed citizenship bill too fast


‘Booth ki Baat’

State BJP chief Dass said they have also planned conferences where they will invite beneficiaries of both the central and state government schemes. These conferences will be held at state, mandal and booth levels.

“We have planned several organisational activities in the coming months before the election campaigning starts. We have selected beneficiaries of central schemes like Ujjwala Yojana, PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi and also beneficiaries of state government schemes. We will hold conferences in December and call the beneficiaries there,” he said.

“We are also organising booth pramukh (head), page pramukh conferences in December where central leaders will participate to galvanise the cadre,” he added. These conferences will highlight the party’s achievements and schemes to garner support for the BJP.

Page pramukhs are given responsibility for voters on each ‘panna’ (page) in the electoral rolls. 

The booth in-charge conferences have been named as ‘Booth Ki Baat’ onaddan the lines of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’. The party has 28,000 booths in Assam and 3,28,000 page in-charges.

There was a plan to organise booth in-charge conferences in the last week of this month, but it was cancelled due to former chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s death.

Nadda was scheduled to travel to the state to take part in one of the ‘Booth Ki Baat’ conferences. 

BJP state in-charge Pawan Sharma said the new date for ‘Booth Ki Baat’ programmes will be finalised soon. “We have done tremendous work and our mission 100 will be completed in Assam this time,” he added.

In the last assembly elections, the BJP had won 61 seats in the 126-member House, while its allies, the Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), had secured 14 seats and 12 seats, respectively. The Congress had won 25 seats and AIUDF 13 seats.

In this assembly election, the BJP has set a target of winning 100 seats. The BJP could dump BPF after the Bodoland Territorial Council election results and is likely to contest on more seats.

In the last five years, BJP’s membership in Assam rose from 2.5 lakh to 60 lakh, and most of the urban bodies are now controlled by the BJP. The party is fighting to capture the Bodoland Territorial Council, which is going to polls on 7 December.

The BJP is separately fighting this election to end BPF’s rule in the council. As many as 12 assembly segments fall under the council.

BJP MP from Silchar Rajdeep Roy told ThePrint: “We have set a 100-day programme for assembly elections.

“The first priority is to win the election in Bodoland council, where 12 assembly seats fall. As many as 54 in-charges, co-incharges have been deputed to oversee the Bodoland council election. This will pave the way for the assembly election, but we are not going to fight the assembly election with BPF as alliance partner. There are a lot of corruption charges against their leadership,” Roy added.


Also read: Death of Assam journalist sparks protests, Rahul Gandhi & Congress blame BJP


 

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