Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national president, has made the state Assembly polls a matter of prestige, more so after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray threatened to overcome the challenge posed by the ‘elephants’ the BJP has deployed from other states to win the elections.
Shah has been camping in the city since Saturday to plan the poll campaign. The master strategist has put in place a campaign blitzkrieg till October 13. The show will take off with 300 public rallies across the state in two days – Tuesday and Wednesday. Shah has told leaders not to engage the party’s erstwhile ally without a reason, but respond strongly if the Shiv Sena stops being reasonable in its criticism. The BJP may not play the Hindutva card openly after a disastrous outcome in the Assembly by-polls in other states earlier this year.
Since Mumbai is crucial for the BJP, Shah has brought in leaders from the states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat – states that a majority of Mumbai’s migrants come from. He has also boosted fundraising because the party’s budget has doubled after its break-up with the Sena.
After the 300 rallies, which the BJP calls ‘Mulukh Maidan’ – the Marathi term for a cannon with perfect aim – the party’s trump card, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will take the state by storm, said a senior BJP leader. “Amit Bhai has agreed in principle for 15 rallies that will feature Modiji, but we would like to have even more,” he said. Modi’s tour will be finalised after his return from the US.
With only two weeks at hand, the BJP will rely heavily on digital media. Modi’s rallies will be screened in 3-D formats in places that the PM will not visit. The media campaign has been redesigned to suit the BJP’s new slogan “Rashtra, Maharashtra” (you have given us power at the Centre, now give us power in the state as well).