PM prescribes ‘padyatra’ for rural connect

PM prescribes ‘padyatra’ for rural connect

Seeking to deepen the party’s rural connect, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after the Union Budget’s rural infrastructure imprint, on Tuesday asked party MPs to embark on a 150-km ‘padayatra’ in their constituencies in October this year, coinciding with the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

He was speaking at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, the first after the Union Budget, whose message was also highlighted by the prime minister when he kicked off BJP’s membership drive in Varanasi on Saturday.

At the meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke on the salient points of the Budget and its intended benefits, which BJP lawmakers are expected to apprise people of during their yatra.

Drafting in even the Rajya Sabha MPs of the party to strengthen the organisational base, the prime minister also asked them to visit constituencies where the BJP organisation is weak.

The BJP is in the midst of a 35-day membership drive called the ‘Sangathan Parva Sadasyata Abhiyan’ that will conclude on August 11.

The prime minister’s message to keep the party MPs in action comes at a time when the BJP, after its stupendous success in the Lok Sabha polls, is bracing for a round of Assembly polls in the party-ruled Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand by the end of the year and February March next year in Aam Aadmi party-ruled Delhi.

Modi suggested that these padayatras can be conducted between October 2, Gandhi’s birth anniversary, and January 30, his death anniversary.

In the backdrop of a renewed Gandhi versus Godse debate that kicked in over remarks of certain party leaders during the Lok Sabha poll and were strongly disapproved by the top BJP leadership, the ‘padyatra’ programme, highlighting Gandhi’s ideals and legacy, is expected to help BJP shed the negative publicity that was associated with it some time back.

Modi had very strongly reacted to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s remarks on Godse during the Lok Sabha polls. During the meeting, the prime minister chose to underline that these padayatras should focus on villages and reaching out to public.

Addressing the party lawmakers, the prime minister stressed that Gandhi and villages will be the focus and MPs should discuss Gandhian thoughts with the people.

He also suggested that plantation of trees, cleanliness and other issues related to village can also become part of the planned marches.

The formula is repeat of BJP’s membership drive during BJP workers will plant at least five trees, carry out sanitation drive and explore options of water conservation.