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Buoyed by its success in the recent assembly polls in five states, the BJP in Gujarat has set the ball rolling on its preparations for the state elections at the end of the year. Apart from a massive ground outreach to rope in 7.5 million page members to make the BJP organisationally strong, the party has also initiated a comprehensive training module for its members and office bearers on the party’s history, ideology and key beliefs.

“Ideology is the biggest strength for the BJP and since the party has been in power here for more than two decades, we feel that ‘prashikshan’ (training) is important to keep them motivated about how fortunate we are to be in a party like this that is repeatedly winning the hearts of people. We want our morcha workers and office bearers to have no doubt about our party’s ‘vichardhara’ (ideology), and as part of the training module we are also teaching them ways to take them to people,” a senior office bearer told ET, on the condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, along with BJP president JP Nadda and general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh, met MPs from Gujarat and asked them to travel to their constituencies and enhance the use of social media to reach out to more people about the work the government was doing. This was the PM’s second meeting with the MPs from his home state in the past one week.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government is expediting a slew of infrastructure projects such as the second phase of the Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad metro, a greenfield international airport at Rajkot, a diamond bourse in Surat and more. The party has also launched a six-month-long campaign to reach out to voters, particularly with poor backgrounds, and take up the responsibility of nourishing children found to be under-nourished, under a scheme called Suposhan abhiyan. Gujarat, apart from Bihar and Maharashtra, ranks among the states with the highest number of severely malnourished children, according to the National Family Health Survey.

The government’s Covid-19 vaccination drive will be showcased as a success, another member said. A campaign to paint the BJP symbols on walls in villages and urban centres to make the party more visible has also been intensified.

Another senior member explained that the party, while projecting PM Narendra Modi’s vision for the state and achievements at the Centre, is also working at strengthening the organisation on the ground at a micro-level.

Unlike UP, where the party commonly uses ‘panna’, in Gujarat the reference is always to a ‘page’ that has 30 voters each. “Our effort is to reach out to our existing members and expand, and ensure at least in ten families that have voters in a page, we have our committed voters in six of them. We are in the process of building our page committees that have six members each all from different families. Even if 21 vote out of 30, 15 should vote for the BJP. That is our effort,” said this person.

He added that since July 2020, there had been at least nine bypolls, elections at various corporations, civic bodies and district panchayats, apart from those in APMCs, dairies and cooperative banks where the BJP has performed well and this has given a boost to party’s organisation in the state. While the organisation-strengthening work has commenced across the state, 27 tribal districts, north Gujarat and Saurashtra where the party lose critical seats will be the top focus. “With the AAP looking to ally with smaller parties such as the Bharatiya Tribal Party, we don’t want to leave any stone unturned, particularly in districts such as Narmada and Chote Udaipur,” another member said.

With its recent success in Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party has projected itself as an alternative to the Congress and BJP and promised governance without an agenda in the state, even raising issues such as continuous leak of question papers of competitive exams, a recent controversy that saw protests and eventually the resignation of Asit Vora, chairman of the Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board. The AAP has planned a massive rally in the state next month.

State BJP president CR Patil said the party was confident of a historic mandate in the state in the polls scheduled at the end of the year. When asked if the AAP was a factor, he said there was no chance of it damaging the BJP in any way.

“One should remember that the AAP also tried to contest in Goa, Uttarakhand and UP but people rejected them outright. The same thing will happen in Gujarat. The PM’s work in the country is for everyone to see and every Gujarati feels a lot of pride,” he said.

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