Last week, BJP president Amit Shah held a meeting attended by party office-bearers and senior Ministers of the Union Cabinet, the agenda of which was firming up some aspects of the party’s strategy for the 2019 General Elections.
Termed “Mission 350”, it is to be a plan to secure 350 Lok Sabha seats or near abouts. The bare bones of the strategy were actually laid out in a meeting of the party’s core committee members, including from State units, held in New Delhi in September 2016.
Mr. Shah had informed these core committee members that he had identified at least 113 seats across the country where the party had stood second or garnered an impressive vote share despite having no previous history of support. These were to be nurtured and made winnable in the next three years.
Last week, Mr. Shah distributed the charge of at least 150 seats (more seats were added to the original corpus) among Ministers and senior leaders. Four seats per person were allotted, with Health Minister J.P. Nadda and Minister of State for Communications Manoj Sinha being allotted seats in West Bengal, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seats in Assam, Power Minister Piyush Goyal in Tamil Nadu and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Karnataka.
To hold surveys
Leaders have been told to frequently travel to these seats and complete at least 40 such trips in the run up to the polls. Surveys and assessments will be carried out on a quarterly basis on these seats after every three to four months. “Ministers and leaders have been told to meet influential people in these constituencies, intellectuals, workers, farmer groups, community leaders. Avoid staying in fancy hotels and Ministers have been especially asked to be careful not to use official vehicles for any of this work,” said a senior leader who attended the meeting.
This week, as the Chief Ministers of the BJP-ruled States arrived in Delhi for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah, saw a few of their number stay back an extra day to meet one-on-one with the party chief. It seems Mr. Shah has not given up on securing seats in the traditional areas of support for the party either, States like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan that the BJP had done well in, in 2014. Some changes in the ministerial set-up in these States has also been prescribed and these changes will be made to combat the built in anti-incumbency.
After a marathon 110-day tour across the country for organisational expansion, Mr. Shah’s ambitions seem to have gotten bigger, and plans more structured.