The new 9 crore BJP: Here's how Modi can use his 'missed call' tech to push the land bill

Congress may be taunting the BJP by calling it a missed call party but it is missing the actual political point involved in this gigantic exercise.

Sanjay Singh April 01, 2015 07:48:49 IST
The new 9 crore BJP: Here's how Modi can use his 'missed call' tech to push the land bill

When the books closed on 31 March, the account keepers of the BJP membership drive were a delighted lot. The number of `missed calls’ for enrollment to the primary membership of the party had reached the nine crore mark.

However the party’s appetite has grown bigger and it wants more. The deadline to extend memberships has thus been extended by a month, to 30 April, particularly in states like Maharastra, Jharkhand, Haryana, J&K, which went to polls last year. The party believes that this extended period will give it a chance to meet its stated target of 10 crore members.

The new 9 crore BJP Heres how Modi can use his missed call tech to push the land bill

Onwards to ten crore! AFP

The BJP will have reasons to celebrate its 35th anniversary in style, which falls on 6 April. For the first time since its inception in 1980, it not only has a clear majority on its own in Lok Sabha but has also become largest political party in the world. It has evolved from being a cadre based party in its erstwhile avatar, the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, to a genuinely mass based modern day BJP.

The veracity of the method used for the first stage of membership drive and the numbers it has so far reached may have sparked off a big debate but party leaders do not appear perturbed.

Congress may be taunting the BJP by calling it a missed call party but it is missing the actual political point involved in this gigantic exercise.

Apart from the very fact that the party has nine crore members, the entire exercise has been invaluable to the BJP in other ways as well. The technology the party adopted to implement its missed call membership drives also gives the BJP a huge data bank that it can use for Narendra Modi’s future outreach programme. It will help the BJP even reach out to states where its organisational strength is limited.

BJP leaders say that this will also allow Modi to establish a two-way “Samvad” with people, especially when it comes to making his point heard on contentious issues like the land acquisition bill. “Supposing Modi is going to a tribal area in Orissa or a remote backward region in Bundelkhand, the members could get a message about his visit and other plans. Even if he or she cannot attend the public meeting, in case there is one, he or she can be kept connected through messages. They will also have a number of local office bearers where they can give feedback and other impressions”, a senior BJP leader said.

Arun Singh, national secretary and co-incharge of the membership drive told Firstpost that “no one could have become a member without giving a call to the designated number. I accept that out of the nine crore membership mark we reached today, a few thousands may not have voluntarily opted for it. Their phone may have been used by some one else to give a missed call or something of that sort. The fact that the first stage of the exercise is technology driven and a call has to be registered to generate an auto response SMS, there is no way that the numbers could be inflated without actual calls. The system does not accept two registrations from same number.”

Those enrolled as members will be physically visited by a party worker, ostensibly to give them a membership card and some other follow up material such as booklets, pamphlets, names and numbers of party office and local area office bearers, etc. “Names of those who registered by mistake or due to mischief of some one else or with obvious criminal records would be deleted” after these visits, Singh explained.

Modi had successfully experimented with this process in Gujarat and is now trying it on national scale. Around 17 crore people voted for the BJP in the last Lok Sabha election.

The members, needless to say, are likely to be bombarded with greetings on Dussehra, Diwali, Republic Day, Independence Day, Eid, Christmas etc. How they are going to respond to it is anybody’s guess.

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