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Modi government’s 3rd-year-in-power celebration to focus on West Bengal, Kerala, Odisha

A host of leaders comprising chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, Union and state ministers will attend programmes scheduled in the three states in 21 days.

india Updated: May 26, 2017 07:44 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Narendra Modi,Amit Shah,West Bengal
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah at party's national executive meet in Bhubaneswar.(PTI)

The 21-day celebration beginning May 26 is not just to mark Narendra Modi’s three years in power, but will also focus on BJP’s expansion plans in the three states it has eyed for long — West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala.

The party will hold about 60 events to showcase Modi and his achievements in Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s stronghold. Two chief ministers — Raghubar Das of Jharkhand and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh — 6 Union ministers, 10 ministers from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, five Lok Sabha MPs and four office bearers of the BJP will travel to West Bengal during these 21 days.

BJP could not win a single assembly seat in the 2011 assembly election and polled a 19.34 lakh votes or a 4.06% share. Propelled by what is now called a ‘Modi wave’, the party polled nearly 90 lakh votes (17.02%) in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and won two parliamentary seats. The 2016 assembly election was a disappointment for the BJP as it polled about 56 lakh votes (10.16%) and won just three assembly seats.

“West Bengal remains a promise for us,” a BJP general secretary said, wishing anonymity. “Between the last two assembly elections, the number of votes we got has more than doubled. But we need to capitalise on our growing organisational strength.”

The story is similar in Odisha, another coastal state where the BJP has limited presence. It replaced the Congress as the principal challenger to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the recent panchayat election. BJP’s tally jumped 10 times in a state where Naveen Patnaik has been the chief minister since 2000.

During the third anniversary celebration, the BJP plans to take Modi’s achievements to every household. Those put on this job include Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, 9 Union ministers, 7 ministers from Chhattisgarh and 5 Rajya Sabha members.

Election for the Odisha assembly and Lok Sabha elections are held simultaneously. In 2014, the BJP polled 46-lakh plus votes (21.88%) for the Lok Sabha and nearly 39 lakh votes (17.99%) for the assembly. This was a jump from BJP’s 2009 performance — about 27 lakh votes with a 15.05% share in the assembly.

BJP leaders say the RSS — an umbrella Hindu organisation — is quite active in Odisha, but it was the party’s organisational weakness because of which it could not capitalise for political victories.

The BJP deals with a similar situation in Kerala, the southern state where it won an assembly seat for the first time in 2016 election.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and 5 Union ministers will tour the state between May 26 and June 15 to attend BJP events and make another push to increase organisation’s footprints there.

“The day people realise we can put up a fight to Congress, it will be the end of road for Communist parties,” a top BJP leader told HT.

The BJP had polled 18.5 lakh votes (10.45%) in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. It further improved in the 2016 assembly election with 21.2 lakh votes (10.53%). These two performances were a huge improvement over the party’s 2011 performance: 10.5 lakh votes (6.03%).

First Published: May 25, 2017 11:15 IST