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PM's dinner for party leaders has 2019 polls on menu

January 12, 2018 15:17 IST

The dinner was Modi’s way to acknowledge the work put in by BJP chief Amit Shah and his team that helped the party win successive polls since 2014 and also to galvanise them for the future, reports Archis Mohan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah and his team of national functionaries and election in-charges of states for a session over dinner to plan for the battles ahead.

The big one being the Lok Sabha poll of 2019, beside the smaller battles in eight states before that. The BJP plans to galvanise its leadership and workers for voter connect campaigns, starting this week.

The party is also looking at presentation of the Modi government’s fifth and final Union Budget of its present term on February 1, which several in the party expect to be focused on rural areas, youth and women.

In his Mann ki Baat address on radio on December 31, the PM had spoken of the estimated 20 million born in the 21st century who become eligible to vote for the first time in 2019. The party plans to launch a ‘Millennial App’ for enrolling first-time voters, hoping to get them on its side.


Other elements of this ‘voter connect’ campaign are polling booth connects, reaching out to college and university students, and encouraging blood donations on January 23, birth anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, students’ wing of the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has lost several recent university elections. The party has felt the need to bolster its outreach to youth. After the Dalit protests in Maharashtra, and earlier ones in Gujarat and Rajasthan, a big focus of the campaign will be to reach out to Dalit youth in the run-up to the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar on April 14.

Assembly polls are scheduled in three northeast states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland by March. Karnataka assembly polls are scheduled for April-May. Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram go to polls by December. 

Thursday’s session, according to sources, gave the PM an opportunity for feedback and to tell them his expectations. The meeting also reviewed the assembly wins in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and whether more effort was needed to take the government’s schemes and policies to the people.

During the winter session of Parliament, the PM had asked all his party MPs to download the Narendra Modi app on their phones. The app has some restricted sections, open only to MPs, where they can interact directly with the PM. Party sources said the effort was to get party MPs to take the various schemes and projects of the government to the people. Party chief Shah has asked research teams to list the 106 schemes and projects the Modi government has launched since coming to power in May 2014. Talking points on the schemes have been prepared and are being distributed among MPs.

Thursday’s dinner and brainstorming was the PM’s way to acknowledge the work put in by Shah and his team that helped the BJP win successive assembly polls since 2014. In 2017, with the exception of Punjab, the BJP formed governments in Manipur, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, and retained Goa and Gujarat.

Image: Thursday's dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also gave leaders the chance to give their feedback and voice their expectations. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Archis Mohan in New Delhi