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Amit Shah in Odisha today to take stock before elections

Booth-level committee members from 6,350 booths in the four Lok Sabha constituencies of Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur would brief Amit Shah about the voter outreach they have done in last one and half years.

lok sabha elections Updated: Jan 29, 2019 00:04 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Amit Shah,Amit Shah in Odisha,Naveen Patnaik
Sources said Amit Shah would urge the booth-level workers to target the nearly 17 lakh first-time voters, as per latest voters’ list by the Election Commission.(PTI Photo)

BJP president Amit Shah would kick off his party’s campaign in Odisha on Tuesday by meeting more than 30,000 booth-level workers in four crucial parliamentary seats considered to be fort of ruling Biju Janata Dal ahead of the assembly and Lok Sabha elections later this year.

Shah, who in July 2017 started the Mo Booth Sabuthu Mazboot (My booth is the strongest) programme to expand the party’s footprints at the grassroots, would hold closed door meetings with the workers in Salepur area of Cuttack.

BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said booth-level committee members from 6,350 booths in the four Lok Sabha constituencies of Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur would brief Shah about the voter outreach they have done in last one and half years. Shah would also brief them about strategies to impress upon the first-time voters in the age group of 18-25 years.

“Till 2014, the BJP’s booth level presence in Odisha was very weak. After Amit Shah became the party president, for the first time we have booth-level workers in all the 37,606 booths of the state. The Salepur meeting would be all about stocktaking of the party’s preparations before we hit the ground running,” said Kumar.

In the 2014 assembly election, the party had got 18% of the votes cast and secured ten assembly seats and in the general election in the same year it won 21.5% of the votes winning just one seat. This year, the party seeks to win at least 35% of the votes and win at least 40 assembly seats.

BJP sources said Shah’s focus on the four Lok Sabha constituencies is significant as the Navin Patnaik-led BJD has a near impregnable fortress in these places. Apart from winning all the four seats, the BJD had won 22 out of the 25 assembly seats there leaving three for the Congress. The BJP drew a blank in those places.

Read more| ‘Congress’s OROP is Only Rahul Only Priyanka’: Amit Shah in Una

At the Salepur meeting, Shah would not address any public rally and would only strategise with each of the booth level workers as well as the booth prabharis on the ways to impress the voters.

“Each of the booths would have around 800-1,000 voters. Our strategy is to get at least 50% of the votes or at least 350 votes in each of the booths,” a senior BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said.

“As each of the booths have several beneficiaries of central government schemes like Ujjwala, Soubhagya as well as toilet construction, the information about each of the beneficiaries booths are being fed into a secure website. The booth workers are expected to meet each of these voters and urge them to vote for BJP,” the leader said

The BJP had started booth-level committees in each of the booths from July 2017 onwards with 25-30 workers as members. Each of the booths had an in-charge called booth prabhari, who is not a local.

Sources said Shah would urge the booth-level workers to target the nearly 17 lakh first-time voters, as per latest voters’ list by the Election Commission.

“As the youth look towards (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi with hope, the youth in the 18-22 age group would be our first target. The second group that we looking at is 22-37 years group as we feel many of them must be dissatisfied with the performance of Naveen Patnaik government,” said the BJP leader quoted above.

BJP leaders said each of the women ministers in the Modi government, including Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi, would have videoconference in the coming weeks with women leaders of the party.

The party is also planning to send customised voice messages to ASHA as well as Anganwadi workers from Prime Minister Modi about the work done by the NDA government at the Centre.

From creating WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages to highlighting the drawbacks of the BJD government, the party has charted out elaborate plans of targeting 40 lakh smartphone users in Odisha.

Shah would come back to Odisha on February 3 to address a tribal convention being organised by the party in Puri. And, Prime Minister Modi will come to Berhampur town on February 12.

First Published: Jan 28, 2019 18:56 IST

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