GUWAHATI, July 24 - With panchayat polls in the State slated for early 2018 and with the country going to head for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chalked out an ambitious outreach programme in Assam to further consolidate its base in areas where its presence is already strong and to seek and expand it to those parts where so far it has not managed to gain much of a toehold.
The upcoming visit of BJP national president Amit Shah to Assam – from August 8 to 10 – is expected to give a fillip to this effort, said senior State leaders of the saffron party.
BJP leaders told The Assam Tribune that the target is to expand the party’s base in those Assembly constituencies which are currently represented by legislators of Opposition parties like the Congress and AIUDF.
“There are some Assembly constituencies where the proportion of voters from the minority communities is very high and in those seats our party does not have any realistic chances of winning. However, each Assembly constituency is part of a bigger Lok Sabha seat and so, even a swing of a few thousand votes will matter in 2019,” said a leader.
He added, “Besides, there are also a number of marginal constituencies where we lost narrowly in last year’s Assembly polls and there we want to expand our base with a view to reaping dividends in the years to come. And with panchayat polls to be held next year, this is the best time for us to reach out door-to-door and penetrate areas where so far our organisation is weak.”
Assam BJP has already identified 50 Assembly seats where it is seeking to expand base and State party chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass has started visiting those constituencies.
“He started with Titabor and then he visited Nazira and Golaghat. Soon, Dass will be visiting constituencies represented by Opposition MLAs in the Barak Valley. At each place, our State chief is spending around two days and holding detailed consultations, beginning with grassroots level workers and up to district heads,” said a BJP leader.
With regard to the upcoming visit of Shah to the State, BJP sources said that while the detailed itinerary is yet to be worked out, he is expected to hold a ‘full organisational exercise’.
“Our national president is undertaking a 300-day trip which will take him across the length and breadth of the country. He has already visited states like Odisha. His Assam trip will mainly aim to ensure that our organisational capacity is augmented with a view to achieving major gains in 2019,” said the leader.
Shah is likely to hold one-to-one meetings with all district presidents of the saffron party, besides its various wings, including the youth wing, Mahila Morcha, OBC Morcha, ST Morcha and SC Morcha.
“He will also carry out an in-depth analysis with our State committee members and other office-bearers regarding the organisational aspects related to our 19 departments and 10 projects,” said a leader of the saffron party.
The BJP had won seven of the 14 Lok Sabha seats from Assam in the 2014 General Elections and many party leaders have since then stated time and again that it is targeting at least 10-11 constituencies to bring to its kitty in 2019.