The launch of the Narmada yatra, and a grand welcome in Indore to newly appointed state Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president Abhilash Pandey show the BJP has kicked off campaigns in different ways though assembly elections are still one and a half years away -- to be held between October and December 2018.
“Though part of the 2016 Simhastha Declaration, the Narmada Seva Yatra was planned in a manner that it will draw people’s attention, specially in rural areas, towards the BJP and state government. It will prepare a base in 2017, which will benefit the party in assembly polls,” a BJP leader said wishing anonymity.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched on December 11 the 144-day-long Narmada yatra from Amarkantak, which will pass through 1,104 villages spread across 51 blocks of 16 districts before concluding on May 11, 2017. He will join the yatra once in a week to address rallies at villages, open grounds and public places.
The campaign to involve people in conservation of the Narmada, considered a holy river, is part of a resolution which the state government made during Ujjain’s Simhastha fair in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May this year.
The Congress sees the yatra as a political move. “How come the CM remembers Narmada after 11 years of his rule, specially when people close to him have been involved in illegal sand mining along the river? His announcement to ban mining along Narmada a day back cannot justify the past,” state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said on Wednesday.
State BJP spokesperson Umesh Sharma denied that the Narmada yatra aimed at political gains. “Yatra will draw people towards Narmada’s conservation keeping in view its economic, social, cultural, religious value,” he said, adding that BJP workers would participate in the campaign as citizens.
In Indore, newly appointed state BJYM president Abhilash Pandey’s welcome rally on December 12 was a show of the BJP’s strength. Local party MLAs and office-bearers were present in the rally that passed through main areas before concluding at Rajwada. National BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was present there to welcome Pandey.
Umesh Sharma admitted that Pandey’s welcome rally was aimed at achieving political and electoral objectives. “The objective was to enthuse workers to achieve goals that BJP sets,” he told HT.
Another event on the anvil is RSS-affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s national convention to be held in the city from December 22 to 27, in which over 5,000 students are expected to take part.