BJP Jaipur meet: Massive outreach programmes, new strategies with 2024 LS elections in mind

The focus of the national executive meeting was to strengthen the party’s base, especially in the 12 states which would go to polls before the 2024 “mahayudh” when Lok Sabha elections would be held

BJP Jaipur meet: Massive outreach programmes, new strategies with 2024 LS elections in mind

Prakash Bhandari

During the recent Jaipur national executive meeting of the BJP which met after a long time and fresh from the saffron party’s recent electoral success, there were concerns about whether the party would be able to maintain its winning streak.

The focus of the national executive meeting was to strengthen the party’s base, especially in the 12 states which would go to polls before the 2024 “mahayudh” when the Lok Sabha elections would be held. The members of the national executive felt that unless the party maintains its good track record in the 12 states and wins elections in these states, it would find it difficult to repeat its 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha election performances when the Modi wave had swept the country.

“It's not easy to find an easy wicket to bat always. The last two Lok Sabha elections saw the party under the leadership of Narendra Modi sweeping the poll as the nation found new hope with Modi at the helm. The intensity of the Modi factor saw us opening new vistas in many states and West Bengal in particular when the party won 18 seats against the 2014 tally of just two. The success in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections gave the party a big boost and it prepared for the Assembly elections in a big way. But we could win only 70 seats and the figure was far less to form the government uprooting the Trinamool Congress. But the scenario has changed and we shall have to rework our strategies to retain 17 seats, one seat that was won by Babul Supriyo, who has since joined the TMC saw the BJP losing to the TMC in Asansol in the bye-election which was won by Shatrughan Sinha of TMC. Thus the party will have to adopt new strategies in West Bengal as the TMC is in power in the state.” said an executive member of the BJP from West Bengal.

Similar sentiments were expressed by the BJP members of other states where the BJP is in power with its alliance partners. It is felt that the party will not be able to repeat the success in Uttar Pradesh of 2019 when it crushed the Opposition to register a massive victory as the Samajwadi Party(SP) has now re-emerged with a sizeable percentage of votes as shown in the recent assembly election. The BJP fears that the Samajwadi and the alliance would win more Lok Sabha seats than in 2019 when the elections are held in 2024.

During the closed-door strategic meeting, a member said that the party should prepare itself as the scenario would be different in 2024 than what was witnessed in 2014 and 2019 when the country was swept by the Modi wave.

“There are numerous examples of parties that received massive mandates of the people losing their mass base after coming into power and losing its grip on the electorate,” said another member on the condition of anonymity.

Under instruction from the party leadership, a majority of the national executive members maintained studied distance from the media, but some of them after the conclusion of the three-day national executive meeting revealed the party’s strategies.

“What I felt during the deliberation was that the party was not in a position to repeat its performance of winning 302 seats increasing its tally of 282 of 2014. According to one estimate, the party is likely to lose 80 seats alone while its alliance partners would also not be able to repeat their performances again. The major losses would be in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Himachal, Maharashtra and Bihar. Thus there is going to be a massive erosion of votes as compared to 2014 and 2019. This year the party did well winning four states UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur and this year both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will have Assembly elections this would be a dress rehearsal for the party.” Said a member from the south.

But 2023 will be a crucial year for the BJP as it has to strive to retain power in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

“In UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, and in Manipur there were no anti-incumbency factors or rather there was no incumbency factor. The electorate's minds have changed and this shows that the anti-incumbency factors did not work as intensely as they used to in previous years. Thus, we are going to these states with better hopes and massive welfare programmes” said Vinod Tawde, the election coordinator of the BJP and a former minister in Maharashtra.

Congress is in power in only Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. But in all these states there are 151 Lok Sabha seats where the party will have to perform well to enable them to retain power in these states which could eventually help the party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections

“We are trying to strengthen our base in these states to build a solid ground for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections” added Tawde.

In a recent interview, the BJP’s general secretary in charge for Rajasthan Arun Singh said that Rajasthan would be a tough battle with a strong Chief Minister and politically experienced person like Ashok Gehlot. Arun Singh said that the party will have to design special strategies for Rajasthan as the free medical and health services, free mobiles for the women, free education for the girl child, waiving of the farmer’s loan worth Rs 15,600 crores and the revival of the old pension schemes would help the Congress in a big way.

The BJP has decided that it would not project any individual as the Chief Minister’s face. The BJP’s strongest leader in the state is the former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, but she has been sidelined by the party, though she is a force to reckon with. The party has decided to go to polls in Rajasthan with Modi as its face.

The Congress is strongly pitched in Chhattisgarh and the people are very happy with the various schemes, particularly the farmer’s welfare schemes which was lauded during the Congress Chintan Shivir at Udaipur. The BJP will have to rebuild its organisational base which is in bad shape in Chhattisgarh.

In the 2019 elections, around 912 million people were eligible to vote, and voter turnout was over 67 per cent – the highest ever, as well as the highest ever participation by women voters.

The BJP received 37.36 per cent of the vote, the highest vote share by a political party since the 1989 general election, and won 303 seats, further increasing its substantial majority. In addition, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had 353 seats. The Indian National Congress won 52 seats, failing to get 10% of the seats needed to claim the post of Leader of Opposition, and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won 91. Other parties and their alliances won 98 seats.

The NDA is a big-ticket alliance and it rules 18 states and six Union territories. The NDA consisted of its existing allies like the Janata Dal (United), AIDMK and Biju Janta Dal. Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and one–member Loktrantik Janshakti Party of Rajasthan have since deserted the alliance. Thus the BJP will not only have to retain its 301 seats, but the alliance will also have to repeat its 2019 performance. As an alliance partner, the YSR CP has currently had 22 members, JD (U) 16, Biju Janta Dal 12, TRS nine, LJP six, AIDMK one, AD (S) 2, JD(S) one, and NPP, MNF NPF, NDPP, AJSU and SKM one each.

Thus, all the alliance partners will have to perform well in the 2024 elections and how many of the current alliance partners will remain NDA partners in 2024 is yet to be seen.

The national executive meeting of the BJP almost immediately after the efforts of the Indian National Congress to rejuvenate itself during the Udaipur Chintan Shivir reflects the ruling party's anxiety over maintaining its winning streak through upcoming assembly elections and the general elections in 2024.

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