It is unusual for the president of the ruling party at the Centre to hold a massive convention of party workers at a megapolis, far from the national capital, and give a war cry for parliamentary elections to be held a year later. This is more so when the immediate attention is on Assembly elections lined up in the next seven months.
But then, Amit Shah is known to start preparing for elections, whether at the Centre or states, much ahead of his rivals. The BJP’s 38th foundation day gave an opportunity to hold a massive workers' conclave in Mumbai and sound the bugle for the Lok Sabha elections. It was here that the party was launched 38 years ago, after separating from the Janata Party.
The BJP chief, during his speech, repeatedly told party workers to start a door-to-door campaign “not on the basis of slogans and empty promises, but on the basis of governance." He also urged workers to ensure that the BJP returns with a full majority government at the Centre as well as in Maharashtra.
Shah's speech, as well as the ongoing brainstorming within the BJP on simultaneous polls, gives an indication that the Maharashtra polls may be advanced from October 2019 to April-May 2019, to be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha elections. Elections may also be advanced in two other states ruled by the party, namely Haryana and Jharkhand, where elections are due towards the end of 2019. As per the current schedule, five states — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim — would go to polls along with the Lok Sabha election.
The BJP chief's address was aimed at boosting the morale of party workers, who may be slightly confused over attacks on the party from various social and political quarters. Shah mentioned the list of the party's electoral and other achievements, including snatching 11 states from the Congress. However, after this, Shah said that the golden period of the BJP is yet to come. "Our golden period will come when we win Odisha and West Bengal, and the BJP gets another full majority in 2019.”
Significantly, Shah also spoke at length about the commitment of Narendra Modi and the BJP towards issues concerning Dalits. Historically, Maharashtra has been a hub of Dalit activism, and so, it was important for the BJP to address the concerns of the community in the state. This was also important as one of Maharashtra's neighbouring states is Karnataka, where an election campaign is going on. Shah accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of lying and claiming that the SC/ST Atrocities Act is being abolished. He also asserted that the BJP would never take away reservations given to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and would not allow the Congress to do so if it were to come to power. A day earlier, Shah had tweeted:
Lies and only Lies!
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 5, 2018
Two days ago, at a function in Delhi, Modi had said that his government had done more than any other dispensation to work for the betterment of the Dalit community and to honour its icon Dr BR Ambedkar. He also lavished praise on another community icon, the late Congress leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, posting a small video in his memory on Twitter. Modi and Shah's comments have political implications, as they come in the aftermath of the Bharat Bandh, which saw vociferous protests by the Dalit community. While the BJP has been celebrating its foundation day for the past 38 years, the celebrations were earlier confined to party headquarters, whether in Delhi or in other states. This time, the celebrations were on a much larger scale. While Amit Shah addressed a massive workers' conclave, the prime minister directly interacted with 734 district party presidents and other workers through the Narendra Modi app. These were in the parliamentary constituencies of MPs Poonam Mahajan (north-central Mumbai), Meenakshi Lekhi (New Delhi), Manoj Tiwari (north-east Delhi), Anurag Thakur (Hamirpur) and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran). Sources in the BJP said that such a two-way interaction with workers, through the use of modern technology, can be used to engage booth-level workers in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Earlier on Friday, Modi had tweeted:
The BJP is the party of a New India. We are privileged to receive the blessings of people of all age groups, across all sections of society. We are a Party that believes in India’s diversity, our unique culture and, above all, the strengths of 125 crore Indians! #IndiaTrustsBJP pic.twitter.com/1DNDyBXOpZ — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 6, 2018
Updated Date: Apr 07, 2018 09:17 AM