NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had enthralled the rapturous Indian Diaspora in Madison Square Garden in New York and Sydney’s Allphones Arena and sold them the “Indian dream”. He had also exhorted the expats to contribute to the country’s development. The BJP is now homing in on the “euphoria” generated by the Prime Minister’s foreign visits to prepare an action plan to use the NRIs, particularly those associated with the party, as an advocacy group to hard sell the government’s policies to the lawmakers in their respective countries.
The BJP, which claims to have a presence in around 40 countries, is reorienting the functioning of its Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) units from merely being groups holding community events and networking among themselves, to become lobbyists. The party has planned a big push around the time Modi Government completes one year in office. “In May, when Modi Government would complete a year, the OFBJP units would bring out newsletters based on the BJP Government’s achievements, policies and their country specific issues. These units have been asked to target and meet their local lawmakers, Parliamentarians, media and other leading figures and create awareness about our country,” said Vijay Chauthaiwale, incharge of the OFBJP and the party’s foreign cell.
Handpicked by Modi to lead the party’s influential units, Chauthaiwale is a micro-biologist by training. Before taking the plunge into politics, he worked as vice-president of Torrent Pharmaceuticals in Ahmedabad. An RSS volunteer, he took a four-month sabbatical in February to work for Modi’s campaign, liaisoning with the RSS and the BJP leaders across the country.
At his office at the BJP headquarters on 11 Ashoka Road,Chauthaiwale’s work includes not just engaging with the NRIs, but also networking with the national capital’s diplomatic community and calling on foreign dignitaries on behalf of the party. The idea is to engage the NRIs with the local governments and create pressure groups. The inspiration comes from the strategically- thinking Israelis staying in countries like the US. “The Israeli groups are assertive about their rights. They keenly contest every word said about their country. Despite their small numbers, they have good presence in the establishment,” Chauthaiwale said and pointed out that advocacy would make Indians assertive.
The May event has been planned in such a way as to make a strong impression in the US, Canada, Kenya, UK and Australia, which have sizable numbers of Indian expats. It would be followed by another massive event on June 21, the International Yoga Day.
The OFBJP units have been asked to join hands with the Indian Embassies and even hold independent programmes to showcase India’s contribution to the world.