Modi lays out contours of BJP’s 2024 outreach
On the concluding day of the national executive committee meeting in New Delhi, Modi told party members in a closed-door session that India was on the cusp of prosperity and a glorious era, and that workers needed to work hard and show dedication.
With roughly 400 days to go for the 2024 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers on Tuesday to intensify the party’s outreach among all sections of society and minorities, especially marginalised communities, undertake membership drive on mission mode, and focus on young people between the ages of 18 and 25.
On the concluding day of the national executive committee meeting in New Delhi, Modi told party members in a closed-door session that India was on the cusp of prosperity and a glorious era, and that workers needed to work hard and show dedication. Party functionaries privy to the PM’s address said Modi cautioned them not to drop the ball on key issues.
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“The PM’s address was inspiring; it gave direction and showed the way for the future. He said the best era of India is coming up, and we should not shy away from working hard as we can be witnesses to this golden period. He also said this Amrit Kaal should be transformed into Kartavya Kaal, then only will the country move towards progress,” Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, addressing the media.
Referring to Modi’s address as that of a statesman, Fadnavis said the cadre was instructed to focus on aspirational districts and intensify outreach irrespective of the response from communities.
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“He (PM) said we need to sensitively reach out to all sections of society, and said while doing so, we don’t need to think of votes. We need to keep working...” Fadnavis said. He also added that the PM underlined that the BJP was no longer a political movement but also a social movement working to transform the socioeconomic conditions of the people.
Modi’s speech marks the first glimpse of the BJP’s strategy for the next general elections, which is scheduled in the summer of 2024, and may focus on grassroots networks, marginalised communities, and young people, three of the main themes of the PM’s address.
This is not the first time that the PM has urged the party cadre to build bridges with diverse sections, including some marginalised communities that are not seen as part of the BJP’s voter base. In the last NEC meeting in Hyderabad last year, the PM directed party leaders to reach out to the marginalised sections among the minorities, citing Pasmanada Muslims (who comprise lower-caste Muslim groups) as an example.
Responding to a question on whether the PM sought feedback on his earlier instruction to reach out to marginalised Muslims, Fadnavis said, “The PM said till marginalised are mainstreamed, India’s development yatra will not be complete. He spoke about reaching out to all the sections of society and said there are 400 days for elections and we must use this time to work for all the marginalised groups.”
A party functionary said the PM cautioned the party workers against complacency and relying too much on last-minute campaigns to win electoral contests. “The PM said party workers, especially in poll-bound states, should hit the ground running and not be complacent. The work that they usually do in term of ensuring implementation of policy and the reach of benefits should be carried out much before canvassing starts. This will allow them to forge connections with the people in a non-political way,” the functionary said, requesting anonymity.
The PM said the party should reach out to all groups to instil faith in them that the BJP government will address their concerns. “The PM said even a community that does not vote for the BJP should also have faith in the governance model and be assured that their concerns will not go unheard,” the functionary said.
The stress on mainstreaming of marginalised communities and people living in far-flung areas was reiterated on Tuesday when the PM underscored the need to hold programmes to involve them. “The PM instructed the party to undertake some programmes by various morchas in the border villages to mainstream these. He said BJP workers should also work in the aspirational districts and take up programmes that can help implement policies and programmes such as the nutrition mission,” Fadnavis said.
The BJP says it is the largest political party in the world with 180 million members, but the PM urged party leaders to connect more members with the party.
“The PM also said that those between 18 and 25 have not witnessed the political history of India. They aren’t aware of the corruption and wrongdoings that took place under previous governments. So, they need to be made aware and let them know about the good governance of BJP,” Fadnavis said. The 18-25 demographic comprises people who gained adulthood during or after 2014, when the National Democratic Alliance first came to power at the Centre.
The party has focused on wooing young people, women and marginalised communities with specifically drafted policies such as scholarships, easy loans without collateral, and incentives to turn entrepreneurs by doing away with a multitude of clearances. “He (Modi) said this party carries out membership drives on a large scale, but we don’t carry out a meeting of the members. The primary members should also be invited for sammelan in every district,” Fadnavis said.
To a question on whether the PM spoke about the role of the Opposition, especially against the backdrop of the party blaming them for carrying out a negative campaign against Modi, Fadnavis said the PM told the gathering that the party expected everyone to do their bit for Amrit Kaal, the 25-year period between 2022 and the centenary of Independence in 2047. “We don’t undermine the Opposition but we now are capable of ushering in a social revolution he said,” Fadnavis said, quoting the PM.
Modi also flagged the importance of conservation of environment and ecology. “The PM said just as gender disparity was reduced through the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, we need to carry out a campaign to listen to mother earth and check the unregulated use of chemicals. The changes in air and water caused by pollution are an indication that we need to listen to the earth and join forces with the government whether it is to promote organic farming or for energy transition,” Fadnavis said.
The PM’s statement comes at a time when residents are being evacuated from Joshimath in Uttarakhand after cracks began to appear in residential and commercial buildings. While the government has blamed natural causes for the sinking of the town, residents and environmental activists blame it on tunneling work for a hydropower project, unplanned development, and the use of heavy machinery for construction of highways.