BJP to enrol more members through Vistaraks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in tree plantation drive, in Varanasi, Saturday, July 6, 2019. BJP Working President JP Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath are also seen. (PIB/PTI Photo)

Launching BJP membership drive on the birth anniversary of its ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, top party leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, donned the role of ‘Vistaraks' and panned out across the country to begin the 35-day special membership drive called “Sangathan Parva”.

In the national capital, BJP’s newly-appointed working president J P Nadda and BJP general secretary organisation Ramlal launched drive.

Nadda said the party, which has 11 crore members now, has targetted to enrol six crore new members (more than half of its current strength) through NaMo App, mobile missed calls and membership forms.

“But we are hopeful that we will make 10 crore new members,” he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh kicked off the membership drive in Jaipur while Union Road Minister Nitin Gadkari did it in Nagpur.

Launching the drive in Varanasi, Modi asked the party leaders to reach out to all sections of society in an apparent attempt to counter the perception of BJP being anti-Muslim. Shah in Rangareddy district in Telangana, set a target of 18 lakh new party members in the state and exhorted party workers to make South a stronghold of the saffron party.

The saffron party plans to target new areas for expansion during the “Sangathan Parva Sadasyata Abhiyan” that will conclude on August 11.

Modi addressed a party gathering in his Parliamentary seat Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, which had consistently and overwhelmingly voted for BJP in last two Lok Sabha polls as well in 2017 assembly polls. Assembly elections are due here in 2022.

Shah, doubling in the role of party chief and Home Minister visited Telangana, where polls are due in 2023.

Though it had won only one seat in the 119-member Assembly of Telangana in the state polls last year, its gain of four of 17 Lok Sabha seats in general elections has spurred hopes. So far Karnataka is the only south-Indian state where the BJP rose substantially and even formed a government of its own.

However, the immediate targets of the party are West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala. In Bengal, it is aiming to double its membership to nearly one crore from the existing 42 lakh. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP got over 2.3 crore votes and is now sensing a change in the mood as the assembly polls are due in 2021.

The drive was launched on Saturday after back-to-back meetings of the BJP to fine-tune its strategy in last one month.

In West Bengal, the party is particularly hopeful in West Bengal, where it has increased its vote share from just 16.8% in 2014 to 40.25% in 2019.

In Kerala, where the BJP tied up with smaller parties, the NDA vote share went up to 15.2% from 10.8 in 2014. The BJP on its own got around 13% votes. Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the other states, where the BJP is eyeing big.

The party has decided that senior leaders spearhead the membership drive as “vistaraks" (expansionists) for seven days. They will be among two lakh such people each of whom will take charge of five booths. From the ten lakh booths, BJP workers will knock the people’s doors and get them to fill forms with name, address, email and phone numbers, a second layer after enrolling them through mobile missed calls to weed out bogus entries.

In all the ten lakh booths, BJP workers will plant at least five trees, carry out sanitation drive and explore options of water conservation.

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