Prime Minister Narendra Modi is challenging BJP leaders to spread the party’s ideology to the farthest corners of the country. And he is doing it with a directive cloaked as a caution – “na baithunga, na baithne dunga” (Neither will I rest nor will let you).
Modi’s exhortation, at a meeting of BJP parliamentarians in New Delhi on Thursday, was on the lines of a similar statement he had made just after he was installed as the Prime Minister in 2014.
Then it was targetted at corruption, one his key election planks. “Na khaunga, na khaane dunga,” Modi had said, warning people that neither he will accept bribes, nor allow anyone to do so.
The Prime Minister’s new goal for BJP leaders was aimed at ensuring the party’s victory in the 2019 parliamentary polls, said party sources who attended the meeting.
Modi led the BJP to spectacular victories in the recent five-state assembly polls, winning Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand with overwhleming majorities. The BJP also managed to form the governments in Manipur and Goa despite ending up as the second-largest party. The only black spot was the defeat in Punjab where its alliance government wiht the Shiromoni Akali Dal was ousted by the Congress.
At the BJP parliamentary party meeting, the sources quoted Modi as telling MPs that after nearly three years in office, people have started believing that this government was “performing”.
And the party must now explore new options to reach out to more people.
“One untapped area is youth. Before May 26 (the government’s third anniversary), you should come out with suggestions to make youth the brand ambassadors of BJP. No institution should be left out,” he said.
Modi also set out another target for party leaders between April 6 and 14, between the party’s foundation day and BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.
And that is to promote the government’s ambitious plan of making India free from open defecation under the Swachchta Mission. He also asked MPs to promote the of the BHIM app among street vendors, part of the government’s mission to create a cashless economy.
“Become vistarak (campaigner) for the party for at least 72 hours during this period,” Modi said.
“Bhim is a new currency. It will transform lives of people of lower starta,” Modi said, hinting the more it was used there could be incentive through banks. “It will bring them out from the clutches of money lenders.”
MPs gave Modi and party president Amit Shah a standing ovation at the meeting.
Parliamentarians also adopted a resolution hailing Modi for leading the party to the historic victory. Sweets from the Tirupati Venkateswara Temple, arranged by parliamentary party secretary Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu, were distributed to all MPs.
In his speech, Shah said the result of the 2017 assembly elections has unshackled democracy from three ills -- casteism, nepotism and appeasement.
Maintaining that a new order of polity is emerging, Shah said the Vikas Yatra that started from Gujarat has been ratified by the people.
“2014 victory was historic. People attached significance to the 2017 elections as well. Victory should not make you complacent. 2019 should be the target now,” Shah said.
Earlier during the day, MPs greeted Modi with a slogan when he walked into the Rajya Sabha.
“Dekho dekho kaun aya, Gujarat ka sher aya (See who has come, the lion of Gujarat has arrived)”.
Opposition MPs, however, taunted BJP for its loss in Punjab.