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Haryana BJP eyes repeat of Lok Sabha feat, to deploy 3 lakh panna-pramukhs for state polls

In the Lok Sabha elections, 2 lakh panna-pramukhs were involved by the BJP to micro-manage the electorate.

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Chandigarh:Panna-pramukhs’, the BJP’s grassroots soldiers, are at the core of the party’s strategy in Haryana where it is seeking to replicate its Lok Sabha results — a clean sweep of 10 seats — in the Assembly elections scheduled this year.

Though the BJP’s success in the general elections in the state was attributed to non-Jat polarisation, a close look at the election data showed that a significant chunk of Jat voters — those owing allegiance to the Indian National Lok Dal — opted for the BJP.

At least 13 per cent of the INLD’s vote share went to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. The INLD’s vote share dipped to 1.89 per cent in this general election from 24.43 per cent in 2014.

BJP leaders believe that panna-pramukhs had played a key role in showcasing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s achievements at the grassroots. The party has, therefore, decided to increase their numbers by 50 per cent to 3 lakh, who will work for the Assembly elections. In the Lok Sabha elections, two lakh panna-pramukhs were involved by the BJP to micro-manage the electorate.

“After the success of our experiment during the Lok Sabha elections, we have decided to use the panna-pramukh cadre in the Assembly elections as well,” state BJP chief Subhash Barala said.

Explaining the role of panna-pramukhs, Barala said: “A panna means a page of the electoral roll. It has 60 voters — thirty on each side of the page. These roughly translate into 10 to 15 families. A panna-pramukh will be responsible for these 60 voters (listed on the page) and work on these families, especially in areas where the BJP got less votes (in the Lok Sabha elections).”

Also read: BJP’s Haryana poll preparations in high gear, broken Congress twiddles its thumbs

Panna-pramukhs are being reviewed

This week, the BJP has started an assessment exercise of its existing cadre of two lakh panna-pramukhs. “Those who have shown good results in the Lok Sabha elections will be retained and in case there is a change required, it will be done. More panna-pramukhs will also be taken in,” said Barala.

The senior leaders of the party have been made in-charges of the larger units. “Every senior leader of the party has been given charge of two to three constituencies. The 90 Assembly constituencies in Haryana have been divided into 290 mandals and each mandal is headed by specially appointed mandal adhyaksh,” said Barala.

Each mandal has 10 to 12 ‘Shakti Kendras’, a smaller unit for which the local level leadership is responsible. A Shakti Kendra is a cluster of 5-6 booths. On an average, a booth has almost 1,500 voters.

Each booth has an average of 25 panna-pramukhs working on voters of that booth. Apart from campaigning, these panna-pramukhs have been tasked with other duties such as holding party meetings and updating voter lists.

The BJP had launched its preparations for the Assembly elections early last month with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar meeting party president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.

Khattar also launched “Mission-75” aimed at winning 75 of the 90 Assembly seats. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP had won 47 seats and got a little more than 33 per cent of the vote share. The BJP’s 2014 victory was historical as the party had managed to secure only four seats in the Assembly elections in 2009 and had never formed the government in the state independently.

On 6 July, the party began its membership drive in the state with a ‘sangathan parv’ in Gurgaon addressed by national vice-president Shivraj Chouhan. The party is expecting to increase its present strength of 33 lakh members by at least 20 per cent.

Also read: Haryana makes a poll move — will fund Dalit trips to Kabir, Ravidas & Valmiki shrines


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