The two-day meeting of the BJP’s national executive ended on Sunday on a high note. A new level of confidence among the party’s rank and file marked the conclave that came close on the heels of the its emphatic victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and its success in retaining Goa and wresting Manipur from rival Congress.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, sought to raise the bar, urging party leaders to aim big and expand — ideologically, geographically and socially. He set new targets: Winning in states that go to polls between now and the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019; winning in those 120 Lok Sabha seats that the BJP has never won; and winning the support of those communities that have shunned the party in the past.
It is to serve these goals that Mr Modi gave a new gloss to the BJP’s OBC outreach. The political resolution adopted at the weekend conclave in Bhubaneswar, therefore, highlighted the government’s recent move to accord the National Commission for Backward Classes a constitutional status.
The OBCs account for nearly 52% of India’s population whose support can make or break a party. These social groups gradually aligned themselves with regional players as the Congress grew weaker. The rout of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh gives the BJP a hope that the OBCs were mobilising behind the party. Mr Modi’s plan also includes reaching out to backward Muslims. He reiterated the BJP’s stand on banning triple talaq, a move largely aimed at winning over women from the minority community. The OBC and Muslims outreach is also aimed at weakening the regional players, particularly in northern and eastern India, who thrive on these vote-banks.
The two resolutions passed at the BJP conclave touched upon the pro-poor initiatives of the Modi government, but stopped short of commenting on many issues like slow job creation. These issues will come to haunt the BJP, if a change is not brought about in the current situation. Mr Modi has always spoken of India’s demographic dividend and its nearly 65% population that is below 35. A sluggish economy and the slow pace of job creation hurts them. Needless to say, Brand Modi counts the most on the support of this demographic section and its aspirations.