New Delhi: As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) begins to take stock of the ground situation in the five states that are set to vote next year, the party’s organisation general secretary B.L. Santhosh has started a tour of the poll-bound states.
Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab will go to polls in 2022.
According to BJP sources, Santhosh was in Uttarakhand last week, where he asked party workers during an early review meeting to raise visibility at the ground level — not seen during the Covid-19 second wave peak — keeping in mind the assembly polls.
Workers’ visit to the families that have lost members to Covid and offering help in identifying orphaned children to avail Centre and state schemes are some of the measures Santhosh suggested to recover lost ground.
He also called on the party’s information technology (IT) cell in the state to amplify the seva (service) by the party workers.
Santhosh, however, praised the new Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat for visiting Covid wards in the state wearing PPE kits and sending a good perception message.
He also visited a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office, where the RSS workers briefed him on the upcoming bypolls. The CM has to contest the polls to get elected in the assembly.
Santhosh has now moved to the Uttar Pradesh leg of his tour.
During his visit to Dehradun last week, Santhosh met Uttarakhand BJP in-charge Dushyant Gautam to take stock of the political situation in the state after the change in leadership earlier this year.
He held meetings with the CM, ministers, party functionaries and MLAs separately to take feedback of the situation, particularly Covid feedback and to know how the government and party was making efforts to help the people.
“His main focus was to enhance party-government synergy and visibility at the ground in helping people. It will not serve any purpose to the party if people are suffering and BJP leaders are absent in service,” said a BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
“Many leaders complained to Santhosh that there were huge infra challenges in the hilly state due to geography, but Santhosh said that these challenges can be overcome if party workers and leaders intervene at right time to help,” added the leader.
BJP MLA Khajan Das told ThePrint that there were health challenges in the initial days of the Covid second wave, particularly due to the remoteness of places and sudden spike in cases.
“But we have faced several challenges from oxygen to bed availability and now things are better. The central leadership message was to activate every booth, mandal leader to reach out to the affected families with any sort of help — from ration to arranging vehicles for admission in hospital — till the situation improves,” said Das.
“The party and government should be visible at ground — that was his message,” he added.
BJP MP Naresh Bansal, who in January was made chairman of a committee to suggest strategy for assembly polls, told ThePrint that several state and central government schemes have been launched for child education and pension for the affected families.
“It is now the duty of workers to brief these details to affected family. Since preliminary discussion has been held, more elaborate strategy meeting will take place in June. Right now, the only priority is to help people and correct perception,” said Bansal.
Calls to IT cell for amplifying reach
In his interaction with party’s IT cell head and workers in Uttarakhand, Santhosh asked them to amplify every ‘seva’ story of party workers who are helping Covid-affected people in the state.
He asked the IT chief to appoint workers at every booth and village level to amplify the party’s ‘Seva Hi Sangathan’ campaign for the upcoming assembly poll.
There are 16,674 villages in the state and there should be IT cell workers at the level of every village, he told the chief.
One of the IT cell functionaries told ThePrint that since the transition of power has taken place very recently and immediately the Kumbh Mela was criticised for a surge in Covid cases, the IT cell has been asked “to win the perceptions battle but it will happen only when party workers’ presence and seva work will be increased at the ground level.”
Praise for CM
Unlike many other chief ministers, who are not stepping out from office, the newly appointed CM Tirath Singh Rawat is continuously visiting Covid care wards in PPE kit.
On Monday, he visited the Tehri district hospital where he took stock of the situation and interacted with patients about their well-being. On Saturday, he visited the Uttarkashi district hospital.
“In his meeting, Santhosh praised the CM’s efforts to interact with the patients directly, which has created a positive perception about the government’s effort in dealing with the pandemic,” said a source.
Santhosh also collected feedback from various ministers about the good work done by their ministries.
He also visited the RSS office for discussing the upcoming bypolls. However, it was decided that there will be a strategy meeting to discuss the bypolls and the assembly elections in mid-June, once the situation improves.