BJP to rope in ‘influential people’

Party to reach out to opinion makers ahead of Assembly polls

In poll mode, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is holding parleys with influential individuals in society – popular former government servants, famous lawyers, retired police officers and the like – to see if they will join hands with the party, according to a senior party functionary.

“We are not really focussing on poaching people from other political formations, but are trying to join hands with the people who are opinion makers,” he said, adding that there will be such people joining the BJP in the course of the Vijay Yatra to be taken out by party State president K. Surendran from Kasaragod on February 21.

PM’s directive

In his brief talk with the party core committee in Kerala on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the leaders to introduce new faces and to popularise “the Central schemes that benefited the people of Kerala”, a senior leader told The Hindu.

Mr. Modi chose to gloss over the internal squabbles in the party ever since the last reshuffle resulting in the ascent of Mr. Surendran as State president as his thrust was on augmenting the party organisation and campaigning showcasing the Centre’s ‘achievements’, the leader said.

“Therefore, there’s no organisational shake-up in the foreseeable future,” he added.

Disgruntled party leader Sobha Surendran, who met Mr. Modi in Delhi ahead of his Kerala visit, and was tasked with receiving him when he arrived on Sunday, would campaign for the party in constituencies assigned to her. “She would be asked to contest too, maybe from Varkala, but it is heard she isn’t keen to contest the polls,” said another senior leader.

Social media teams

Meanwhile, the party has pressed into action its social media teams that feed the booth-level activists with campaign material while door-to-door campaigning has also begun, albeit on a smaller scale. “There’s at least one WhatsApp group under each booth committee to circulate information,” said a party leader.

But there are those within the party who think that many booth committees have just a token existence. “Most are just namesake committees and compared to 2016, the party is quite weak organisationally. The slump began with Kummanam Rajasekharan as president and it has continued since,” said a leader.

“But we could land anywhere from three to 10 seats. If it’s 10 for us, it could throw up a hung verdict where we will emerge really powerful,” the leader added.

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