New Delhi: The BJP should reach out to the migrants by providing them sanitisers and masks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s open letter should reach 10 crore voters in the country, preparation of virtual rally of Union Home Minister Amit Shah should begin immediately in Bihar and West Bengal, and PM’s and Shah’s speeches should reach grassroots workers.
These are some of the issues discussed in the meetings between BJP national president J.P. Nadda, and party chiefs and leaders of all states/UTs via video conferences on 1 June.
According to BJP leaders, the meeting was held in three batches to discuss the party’s month-long programme to mark the six years of the Modi government.
The month-long programme includes 500 virtual rallies across the country to communicate the Modi government’s works done in the past year, one big and small rally in every district, and delivery of the PM’s letter to 10 crore people, BJP leaders told ThePrint.
Nadda’s virtual efforts
On 31 May, Nadda had met several ministers, including Nirmala Sitharaman (finance) and Piyush Goyal (railways) to understand the implementation of PM Modi’s Rs 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat package announced on 12 May, said a BJP leader.
The day before, on 30 May, Nadda had addressed a press conference on the completion of one year of Modi government’s second term and in the evening addressed a virtual rally on Facebook on the party’s achievements.
Nadda, who took over the party’s charge from Shah in January this year, has addressed 150 video conferences since the lockdown was announced on 24 March, said the leader.
He addressed two video conferences every day, sometimes even three. In every virtual conference, 10 to 15 state leaders used to be present. In the last two months, Nadda through phone calls, video calls, has reached out to nearly 5 lakh party workers, added the leader.
In these meetings, Nadda reviewed the party’s Covid relief programmes, political activities, the issue of migrants, whether Centre’s help is reaching people at the grassroots level, activities of rival political parties, assessment of food grains delivery programme and others issues that would come to the government’s notice.
A BJP general secretary, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint: “He (Nadda) has spoken to almost every state president, general secretary, core group of states, MPs, MLAs, ministers, mayors, district presidents in the last two months.
“He has virtually covered almost the entire country, from booth level to state level, in two months without having to visit physically.”
Talking about the Monday meetings, the party general secretary said: “The major issue that was discussed in the 1 June meeting was to frame up the anniversary plan. It is a month-long organisation programme.
“We have been instructed to hand over the PM’s letter to 10 crore people, maintain social distancing. The party has also planned virtual rallies in every state and a few press conferences to laud the PM’s effort in fighting Covid and talk about the Atmanirbhar Bharat package announced to help the migrants, poor and the MSME sector,” he added.
The BJP general secretary also said Nadda emphasised on how the PM has fulfilled the party’s ideological commitments in the first year of his second term, how he timely implemented the lockdown to save people and how he is fighting Covid from the front.
‘Focus on Bihar poll preparation’
During the Monday meeting, Nadda instructed Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal to make preparations at the booth level so that people can watch the virtual rally of Shah, which will be held this week.
“He suggested the state unit to strengthen district, mandal IT cells to spread the message about the Shah’s rally to every booth. He has also communicated to the state unit to deliver the PM’s open letter to 1 crore voters at the grassroots level. He also instructed the party leadership to not miss an opportunity to reach out to migrant workers to assess their mood who have returned recently from their workplaces,” said the BJP leader mentioned above.
The leader added the party wants to distribute the PM’s letter to 10 crore voters across the country, including one crore in Bihar as the state is heading for an election.
Nadda also held a meeting with the BJP’s core group in Bihar last week during which he asked the party leaders to focus on booth-level preparations for the upcoming election.
Former Union health minister C.P. Thakur said Nadda ji’s thrust was on booth-level preparation for the polls and coordination with JD(U) workers on the ground.
“He mentioned that time is running out and the organisation should be ready for assembly elections. He also said district presidents should engage the entire party organisation in the election mood,” Thakur said.
‘Gauge the mood of the migrants’
In the last two months, Nadda has at least 10 times interacted with Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and other office-bearers of the state to enquire about food grain distribution, among others, amid the Covid lockdown.
Talking about the Monday’s meeting, Ghosh told ThePrint: “The party president took stock of the preparation for the virtual rally (of Shah) and discussed the month-long party programme drawn for anniversary celebration.”
“(As part of the celebration) We have to reach mandal and booth-level to pass the message of the Modi government’s achievements. We have been told to organise two-three virtual rallies in every constituency,” Ghosh said.
According to Ghosh, Nadda was clear about one thing — to gauge the mood of the migrants and apprise them of how the Centre has started railway services to rescue them and also announced economic packages, especially for them.
“In the last video conference held last week, we briefed the party president about the Bengal situation and how (chief minister) Mamata is still not allowing more trains to rescue migrants and poor relief work being carried out in the aftermath of cyclone Amphan,” he said.
“The World Bank has given ample amounts for Sunderbans conservation. Where is that money? Mamata has been running the government for 9 years but she has not utilised funds for infrastructure. She has to call the Army to fight the cyclone,” he said.
Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary told ThePrint, until the phase four of the lockdown, the party national president used to call them every day, sometimes three times a day.
“Sometimes he directly called district presidents to enquire about certain issues. In daily meetings, he took stock of Covid situation, the status report of three-four Covid relief works assigned by him like Aarogya Setu download, mask distribution programmes, food distribution programmes and donation to PM Cares,” he added.
Bengal assembly elections is due next year.
‘Increase political activity in J&K’
During last week’s meeting of Nadda with the J&K core group, the UT leaders briefed the party president about the situation in the union territory after the Centre redefined domicile rules for government jobs.
According to the notification, anyone who has resided in J&K for 15 years or has studied in the state for seven years, and appeared in either the Class 10 or the Class 12 examination, will be eligible for domicile certificates. This would allow them to apply for gazetted and non-gazetted government jobs.
BJP MLA from Kishwar Sunil Sharma, who is a part of the BJP’s J&K core group, told ThePrint: “We have told the party president that people have welcomed the framing of (domicile) rules. We also apprised him of the rising Covid cases in the union territory.”
“He also instructed us to ensure nobody sleeps with an empty stomach and relief work should continue. He also instructed us to increase political activities via virtual medium. His message was ‘Don’t sit idle due to lockdown but party presence should be felt at each corner’,” he added.
Nadda interacting with ministers too
A second BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint Nadda is not just interacting with party leaders, but also with ministers to enquire about policy announcements and their implementation.
“When the PM announced the Atmanirbhar Bharat package on 12 May, 2-3 days later he sat with almost all senior ministers to discuss the strategies to reach out to migrants and poor. He asked suggestions from them to be implemented at the party level. Home Minister (Amit Shah) was also present in that meeting held at Nadda’s residence,” he added.
“When the migrants were walking home on foot, he called (railways minister) Piyush Goyal to intervene,” the leader added.
A second BJP general secretary said after lockdown phase 4 ended, Nadda started coming to the party headquarters almost daily.
“Now, he spends the first half in the party office and the second half he works from home. During these times, only 2-3 general secretaries come to the office, but he comes regularly to do video conferences. Amit Shah has travelled physically every district in his tenure as the party president, (but) Nadda ji virtually travelled every district in the last two months,” he added.
“Against popular media belief, he keeps a check on everything, takes daily feedback of works assigned to general secretaries and state units, and if any work is going slow, he calls ministers to sort things out,” he added.