Maharashtra BJP Bets Big on 'Vistaraks'

The party has already chosen 150 full-timers workers for three months and each has been assigned one constituency

Published: 30th July 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th July 2014 12:42 AM   |  A+A-

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MUMBAI: Emulating the RSS-style of functioning, the BJP is now working to build a strong base of full-time workers to strengthen its booth-level network in Maharashtra, where Assembly elections are due in October.  The party has already chosen 150 such full-timers for three months.

Each full-time worker, termed vistarak, has been assigned one constituency. They have been asked to remain in contact with the party’s booth-level workers and ensure that they reach  to the voters in an impressive way. The BJP has, however, asked the vistaraks to keep the media away and concentrate on their work, and also made it clear that they could neither seek election ticket nor a position in the party.

“Almost 300 workers had expressed interest in becoming a vistarak. We scrutinised each of them and chose 150 for the task. They have already started their work,” party general secretary (Organisation) Ravindra Bhusari told Express.

The BJP would keep the vistaraks out of the ambit of its state president and the executive. They would report directly to the party’s respective regional organisation secretaries, whom the RSS has sent on deputation in the party.  “We have asked them to submit fortnightly report on their work progress. We will review it and give instructions if we required more contribution from them,” Bhusari said.

The selected vistaraks fall in the age group of 30 to 50 and the party has taken care not to post them in their home districts. “We have also ensured that workers from rural areas are not assigned constituencies in urban areas and vice-a-versa, as they may not be aware of the area specific issues,” he said.

Party’s Mumbai organisation secretary Sunil Karjatkar said this was first of of its kind experiment.  “Earlier, we used to appoint election assistants a fortnight before the polls. This is for the first time we are appointing full-timers on a large scale,” he said.  The BJP, however, clarified that the appointment of vistaraks in 150 constituencies didn’t imply that the party was eyeing to contest as many seats. “We had fought on 119 seats last time. The vistaraks will work for our allies in the constituencies where we will not contest,” Bhusari said.

The saffron party had already started negotiations with its alliance partners -- the  Shiv Sena, Republican Party of India, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha -- on seat sharing formula.

The party has also appointed observers in 26 districts to gauge the workers’ opinion on the possible candidates. They are expected to hold discussions with prominent residents in respective constituencies and submit recommendations to the state level officials.

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