Membership drive: BJP eyes 55 million new enrolments
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked state units to increase their cadre size by at least 50%, which, if achieved, would take the ruling party’s membership base to almost 170 million, two leaders privy to the matter said.
The BJP claims it is the world’s largest political party after it enrolled 110 million members during a 2015 membership drive. That was a big jump from its previous tally of 29 million members.
“We have set a target of increasing our membership base by at least 50%,” the first leader said. “This means 55 million members have to be added.”
The BJP claims its large membership base gave it an advantage over its rivals in this year’s April-May parliamentary elections, and a bigger cadre size would help it reach areas where it has limited footprint.
The BJP launched its membership drive on July 6, the birth anniversary of Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, and it will continue till August 31. Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP’s national vice president, is in charge of the exercise.
“All state units have been informally told about the target and they have started working on it,” the second leader said.
The enrolment drive will be given a greater push in states such as West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana, where the BJP did well in the 2019 parliamentary elections.
“We have grown exponentially in these states during the parliamentary elections. We can even come to power in the states, if we are able to keep up the momentum. So, there is special focus on these states as well as others, such as Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, where there is scope for the BJP to grow,” the first leader said.
In 2015, the BJP’s membership drive was conducted through missed calls on a toll free number. This time, members are being recruited both through missed calls and offline. “This is to avoid any discrepancy,” the second leader said.
During the 2015 membership drive, the BJP could not trace several of those who had given missed calls, possibly because they changed their phone numbers before the party could do a verification exercise.
“We are asking for more details this time, which will help us trace such members even if they change their mobile numbers,” the second leader said.
The membership drive comes ahead of the formal election of a new BJP president in December-January. The party’s working president Jagat Prakash Nadda will, in all likelihood, take over as the next chief from Amit Shah, who is now home minister in the Modi government.
“Today, we are the world’s biggest party. We are not competing against anyone, we are trying to break our own record. Through the membership drive, we have enrolled over 11 crore members and now we have kept a target of 20 crore,” Nadda said at an event in Haryana.
“There is no competition. Even all the other political parties say they are behind the BJP and cannot match the saffron party,” he added.