BJP rewarded for focus on non-core seats

Amit Shah expanded the party’s outreach to win in Telangana and West Bengal

For those surprised at the spread of the BJP across the country , the victories from unlikely areas were not exactly unexpected within the party.

Three and half years ago, BJP president Amit Shah, going by the principle that the party may or may not repeat its sweep of the Hindi belt and Maharashtra in 2019, set his eyes on 113 seats where the BJP had never won but had registered some vote share.

In 2019, the party fielded candidates in 82 such seats and had a 50% strike rate and won 42 seats. Odisha, West Bengal and the North East accounted for of these 24 seats. This was a very successful “Plan B” in the event of the party falling short in U.P., which, of course, it didn’t.

Mr Shah engaged 300 full time workers and got them to work on these seats. Political feedback, “completing” of booths (a booth completion included at least 11-14 people assinged per booth, which would also reflect diversity in terms of members from all communities and women as well), and flagging of issues were all part of the systematic work that went on.

The party president himself travelled extensively across the country in the last two years (starting from Telangana) in what was called the “vistarak” (expansion) programme.

He met with booth level workers to State level Lok Sabha “tolis” or groups. Incidentally, the BJP won four seats in Telangana including Nizamabad, earlier held by Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s daughter K. Kavitha.

Cadre enthused

“The visits also gave confidence to ordinary workers in these States that they needn’t lobby in Delhi for tickets, as the party president was aware of their work,” added a senior party leader. In Telangana, the BJP had identified the leadership vaccum among Reddys after the creation of Telangana and the decimation of the Congress. It’s seat in Secunderabad, won by Kishen Reddy is considered a result of some of the Reddy vote looking at BJP as an alternative.

The next target for the party, say insiders, is to win Assembly polls in West Bengal in 2021.

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