BJP plans outreach programmes for new ministers

Updated on Aug 10, 2021 05:29 AM IST

Called the Jan Ashirwad Rally, the three-day events are being carefully curated so that they underline the social message sent out by last month’s cabinet expansion that expanded the council of ministers to 77.

After the Cabinet reshuffle on July 7. (PTI)
After the Cabinet reshuffle on July 7. (PTI)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Over the next couple of days, Bharatiya Janata Party president J P Nadda will brainstorm with his party colleagues and state leaders to put together a major outreach programme for the 43 new ministers in the Narendra Modi government, said people aware of the details.

Other than junior Jal Shakti minister Bisheshwar Tudu, who is in hospital due to Covid-19, all other new faces in the Union council of ministers will go on a three-day outreach programme to their constituencies and nearby areas to underline how the government has focussed on economically deprived groups like other backward castes (OBCs) and far-flung regions in this cabinet reshuffle.

“All 40 new faces will spend three days and two nights at least in their areas. If they are Lok Sabha MPs, they will cover two other constituencies other than their own,” said a BJP office-bearer involved in the planning, requesting anonymity. “Some of the ministers will head out on August 16, after Independence Day, while cabinet ministers will go after the cabinet meeting on August 18.’’

Called the Jan Ashirwad Rally, the three-day events are being carefully curated so that they underline the social message sent out by last month’s cabinet expansion that expanded the council of ministers to 77. There were key appointments from election-bound states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. As many as 27 OBCs were also accommodated in Team Modi as were 11 women.

“For the first time since Independence, someone from Tripura has made it as a central minister,” said minister of state for social justice and empowerment Pratima Bhowmik who will be landing in Agartala on August 16 and will slowly make her way from one district to another. “I will travel for five days and cover all districts in my state, doing public meetings in each of them. I will be going to temples in each of the districts,” Bhowmik told HT.

Party’s national secretary Sunil Deodhar said,” Take Kapil Patil (MoS Panchayati Raj) who belongs to the aagri community which got its first Union minister since Independence.”

The ministers will take out ‘rath yatras’ on modified vehicles. “The plan will include paying tributes to any Ambedkar statue in the area or to meet a key community leader. We are working out the finer details,” said the office-bearer quoted above.

Ministers who are Rajya Sabha members may cover more than one state. For instance, labour minister Bhupendra Yadav who was a key party leader before being appointed cabinet minister will travel to both Haryana and Rajasthan. HT has learnt that the minister is expected to hold public meetings in half a dozen constituencies starting August 19.

The offices of law minister Kiren Rijiju and education minister Dharmendra Pradhan said they were waiting to hear from the party about the areas they would be travelling to. Petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri will join minister of state for external affairs and culture Meenakshi Lekhi reach out to people in Delhi.

“It is a mass outreach programme but we are making sure that it will be done keeping all Covid protocols in mind,” said the party office-bearer.

Most of the messaging will hinge on Covid management, and in the opposition-ruled states, the focus will be on attacking the local governments on Covid issues.

With key state elections lined up in the coming year, the ministers are unlikely to find rest after the monsoon session of Parliament ends.“We have lost a year and a half due to Covid hence we have to work hard to strengthen the organisation,” Deodhar said.

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    Sunetra Choudhury is the National Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. With over two decades of experience in print and television, she has authored Black Warrant (Roli,2019), Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous (Roli,2017) and Braking News (Hachette, 2010). Sunetra is the recipient of the Red Ink award in journalism in 2016 and Mary Morgan Hewett award in 2018.

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