New Delhi: The three state executive meetings of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — held this month in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Delhi — have brought to fore the “lack of visibility of local leaders” and their “disconnect with voters”, ThePrint has learnt.
The two states and Union territory (UT) are led by non-BJP parties: Chhattisgarh by the Congress, Maharashtra by a coalition of the Shiv Sena, NCP and the Congress, and Delhi by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
According to multiple BJP leaders who didn’t wish to be named, party workers in these regions have been asked by central leaders to be more visible on the ground and raise local issues of importance.
In all the three state executives, leaders were told to “aggressively and actively corner incumbent state governments”, the BJP members said. They were also told to “learn from former leaders’ experiences, end in-fighting, and focus on positives”.
Raise ‘burning issues’ in Chhattisgarh
In Chhattisgarh, at the 13 November meeting, senior BJP leaders told the state unit to be “present on the ground” and said “holding meetings alone will not serve any purpose”.
According to a senior BJP leader, D. Purandeshwari, who is in charge of the Chhattisgarh, reprimanded state leaders and advised them to take on the Congress government’s “misdeeds”.
“Niklo ghar se bahar (venture out of your homes) — this was the advice that was given to BJP workers and leaders in the meeting. BJP workers are simply not visible on the ground. D. Purandeshwariji said that by merely holding meetings and staying inside homes, it will not be possible to win the assembly elections,” said the senior BJP leader. “If we want to win elections we have to be more focused and visible.”
Another leader said district presidents and others have been asked to conduct more pravas (travel) and raatri pravas (night visits) and raise local issues. State leaders have also been asked to raise the alleged issue of increased religious conversion in Chhattisgarh.
“In the state executive, it was pointed out that such burning issues must be raised as they are important for the public too. So far we have been attacking the Congress government over increased conversion, but it needs to be done more aggressively,” added the leader.
The state unit has also been asked to start a signature campaign to “highlight the failure of the Congress government that had promised creating 10 lakh jobs, but has not delivered on that promise”, the leaders said.
Focus on positives in Delhi
In Delhi, central leaders asked ticket aspirants to stop doing “Ganesh parikarma (making rounds of senior leaders)” and focus on connecting with people and working on the ground, it is learnt.
At the 22 November meeting, central members asked local leaders to be united and end in-fighting. They have been told to prepare for next year’s municipal polls and hit the ground running, BJP sources said.
“It was pointed out that rather than focusing on a negative campaign, Delhi leaders should focus on their own positives and what they can deliver. Negative campaigns, it was pointed out, often lead to the Opposition getting an upper hand in changing the narrative,” said a Delhi BJP leader.
According to sources, Delhi BJP in-charge Baijayant Panda stressed the need to showcase the local unit as a united front.
“Party workers have also been asked to reach out to former office-bearers of the party from the block to the state level and learn from their experience.
“At the national executive of the BJP held in early November, PM Modi had also stressed on the need to reach out to senior leaders who might not be active in politics now, but from whose experience one can learn a lot,” said another senior BJP leader.
The BJP, which is in power in three municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD), is expecting a difficult challenge from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In the 2017 municipal polls, the BJP won 181 out of 272 municipal seats in three corporations. The AAP won 49 seats and the Congress came third by winning 31 seats.
Booth-level meetings in Maharashtra
At the state executive meeting in Maharashtra, held on 18 November, it was decided by the party to hold booth-level meetings across the state to “highlight the failure of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government”.
The BJP passed resolutions against the political situation in Maharashtra, and said it will hold nearly 20,000 booth-level assemblies to talk about the government’s failures, a source in Maharashtra BJP said.
“We have decided to go amongst the people and carry out protests across Maharashtra in the coming few days to highlight the failure of the government and put pressure on it. We are also compiling a list of scams that have taken place under this government and we will highlight these issues,” said the senior BJP leader.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)