AMIT SHAH REVAMPS BJP

NEW DELHI (TIP): In an effort to make best use of the “golden opportunity” that the party has, with a majority government at the Centre to showcase, BJP chief Amit Shah has been holding meetings with leaders of seven states and Union Territories where the saffron party still has a long way to go in improving its support base.

As the membership drive for the party hit its peak – 8 crore and 7 lakh as of Thursday — Shah held statewise meetings with leaders of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Odisha over the last couple of days and will be interacting with state unit leaders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh by the week end, to push the party’s prospects in these states.

With assembly elections coming up in Kerala and West Bengal next year, the central BJP leadership has asked the respective state units to make best use of the situation created by the downslide in electoral fortunes of Congress and Left parties in these two states. In both the states the focus is to concentrate on the local body elections as a precursor to the assembly polls.

With the 10-month-old BJP government at the Centre, the party will highlight its governance record to win favour with the people and underline the lack of development and corruption issues in the states. Union ministers have been assigned to help central leaders incharge of states, to boost the prospects of the party in these regions.

In both Kerala and Bengal, Shah has asked the state unit to identify candidates for the polls that are coming up at all levels and even look at candidates from outside the party. The membership drive in Kerala is inching towards the target of 25 lakh with 21 lakh having already signed up.

However, in Tamil Nadu where the political space is taken up by DMK and AIADMK, BJP has decided to prepare for a situation where they may have to go it alone. The membership drive in the state has not yet hit a high, with the target being 60 lakh and so far the numbers having just crossed 21 lakh.

Typically, state leaders have also been asked to identify local issues in the states, which the BJP wants to address so as to connect with people there. Shah has completed his tour of 23 states so far and is hoping to complete all the states by April 30, by when he would have had feedbacks from the district level leaders in all the states. The statewise strategy will be finalised only after this exercise is over.