BJP set to replicate Gujarat plan in Madhya Pradesh for 2023 elections
The Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP has scripted a multipronged strategy to blunt anti-incumbency, iron out differences between leaders and enhance public engagement ahead of the 2023 assembly polls.
The Madhya Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has scripted a multipronged strategy to blunt anti-incumbency, iron out differences between leaders and enhance public engagement ahead of the 2023 assembly polls, said party functionaries aware of the details.
Amid speculation that the party high command may affect a Gujarat-like change in the state’s leadership by installing a new council of ministers, functionaries who spoke on condition of anonymity said there is a possibility that the party may “drop between 40-45% of the sitting MLAs” to field fresh faces.
The attempts to set the house in order come in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s instruction to strengthen the organisational structure and the praise he heaped on the Gujarat unit of the party for pulling out all the stops to win the assembly polls. At a meeting of the BJP’s lawmakers last week, Modi complimented Gujarat unit president CR Paatil for leading the party to an unprecedented victory by winning 156 of the 182 seats.
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“In the coming weeks, our state unit will redouble efforts in terms of voter engagement, concerted outreach among communities and reviving the booth committees to motivate voters,” a senior party functionary said.
Since a similar outreach in Gujarat paid dividends in the state where the party has not lost an election since 1995, leaders in Madhya Pradesh are hopeful that a renewed push will help overcome the impediments of anti-incumbency in their state as well. The BJP was in power in Madhya Pradesh continuously between 2003 and 2018. In 2018, it lost the election, winning 109 of the 230 seats, while the Congress won 114 to form the government. The BJP returned to power in March 2020 after 21 legislators resigned from the Congress and crossed over to the BJP.
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“We are aware of the challenges and perils of being in power for long. A certain boredom creeps in and people, especially the younger lot, are not averse to change. Keeping this in mind, changes at the state and district level began as soon as the new state unit president, VD Sharma, was appointed in February 2020. Since then, several measures have been taken to ensure we are in sync with what the voters want,” the functionary added.
In the first phase of the overhaul, the state unit led by Sharma ensured the digitisation of all 64,000 booths; all leaders including the council of ministers were instructed to spend 10 days in one booth . Simultaneously, the party looked to groom young leaders. “All district presidents now are under 50 and all mandal presidents under 35 years of age. This did lead to friction between the old guard and the new, but the leadership stepped in to defuse the situation and explained the need to allow the younger generation to take over. A training session was conducted for those who came to the BJP from other parties to help them fit in,” said a second functionary based in the state.
The need to scotch intraparty differences has emerged a major concern after rebellion by party leaders not given tickets to contest by the party in Himachal Pradesh was identified as one of the key reasons for the party’s loss in the state polls.
With an eye on women, youth and voters from the scheduled castes and tribes, the party is ensuring that the benefits of central and state schemes reach the intended beneficiaries. “At every booth, information is being collated about the beneficiaries and those who have been left out of the ambit of the schemes. We expect there will be about 1.7 million first time voters by 2023, so khilte kamal (blooming lotus), a scheme that was started by former party president Amit Shah with the intent to nurture talent is being promoted. A youth policy will be announced on January 12,” said the second functionary.
To cement its position among the marginalised communities, the party is focussing on disbursal of scholarships, skill development training and celebrating tribal icons. As per Census 2011, 15.62% of Madhya Pradesh’s population is of people from the scheduled castes and 21.2% from tribal communities. The poor show in ST and SC strongholds was identified as a reason for the 2018 loss. Of the 47 seats reserved for STs, the party won 31 in 2013, but this number dropped to 16 in 2018, while in the SC reserved seats, the BJP’s tally dropped to 18 from 28.