NEW DELHI: The battleground will shift from Parliament to five states going to polls this summer. BJP-led NDA has been preparing to present a more pro-people image after it faced electoral reverses in Assembly elections in the last two years. After its crushing defeat in the Bihar elections, it will be using Prime Minister Narendra Modi sparingly in the upcoming polls.
Ahead of the elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, the government shifted gears by focusing on a pro-farmer and pro-poor budget. It managed to get the Real Estate Bill and Aadhar Bill, which directly impact people, passed. Along with the current debate over nationalism, BJP will go to polls with a pro-people narrative.
Except for Assam, it’s a low stake game for the party in other states. The focus will be on local talent. Sources said that the prime minister may address four-five rallies in Assam and West Bengal. The change comes after Bihar, where Modi addressed nearly 20 rallies but BJP lost.
“We hope to increase BJP’s footprint in all the five states. In Assam, the party has good chances of forming the government. The focus will be on good governance and steps taken by the Modi government,” said a Cabinet minister. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, transport minister Nitin Gadkari, HRD minister Smriti Irani and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu will be campaigning in the states. Irani will address rallies in West Bengal to take on Mamata Banerjee.
Sarbanada Sonowal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for Assam—the only one to be declared by the party the poll-bound states—will be helped by party general secretary Ram Madhav. The saffron party has roped in a breakaway faction of poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s team to help in Assam.
Sources said polls in Assam and West Bengal will see BJP focus on corruption on the Congress and Trinamool Congress governments respectively, apart from reaching out to the Hindu population and Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants. For West Bengal, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and secretary Siddharth Nath Singh are the pointpersons. Assam and West Bengal go to polls first in April. Subash Chandra Bose’s grand nephew has been pitted against Mamata, making him the local face of the party’s campaign.
In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, BJP is aiming to expand its reach. It has deputed ministers J P Nadda and Rajiv Pratap Rudy to manage elections in Kerala, while Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal will be looking after Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.