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Shivraj Chouhan to head BJP's membership drive, party to select new chief

Archis Mohan/New Delhi 13 Jun 19 | 04:32 PM

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will head the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s renewed membership drive that will culminate in the party’s organisational polls and election of a successor to party chief Amit Shah.

The fortnight-long membership drive will aim to increase BJP’s membership by 20 per cent. The BJP says that it has 11 crore members. The BJP had conducted its last membership drive in 2016, and a subsequent internal survey had found several anomalies in the details of new members.

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However, the BJP believes such membership drives, despite anomalies, helps galvanise the party cadre and strengthen outreach in regions where it needs to improve its presence. The latest membership drive would focus on increasing the party’s members in states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Shah, in a meeting on Thursday, reminded party’s state unit chiefs and central office bearers that in his inaugural presidential address in Delhi on August 9, 2014, he had said the party was yet to achieve its “peak" despite getting a simple majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Shah said the BJP received 50 per cent or more votes in 220 of the 303-seats it has won in the 2019 polls, and its vote share was more than 50 per cent in 16 states and union territories.

Shah said he would repeat himself that the BJP “has still not peaked in terms of its electoral performance despite winning 303-seats in the 2019 polls"--its highest ever.

Shah said the Lok Sabha results were a mandate against the politics of “jaativaad, parivarvaad, sampradayavaad", or casteism, nepotism and communalism. He said the 2019 results have also busted the myth of the influence of caste-based politics in Uttar Pradesh.

He said the 2019 mandate was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and sushasan, or good governance, and hard work of millions of party workers has contributed to this success. The BJP chief said the 2019 mandate was for BJP’s commitment to “rashtravaad, sushasan, garib kalyan", or nationalism, good governance and welfare of the poor.

Shah implored the party leadership to reach out to people as part of its sanghathan parva, or membership drive, in states where the BJP needed to improve, particularly in the southern states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Chouhan, the former chief minister, will head the team constituted to oversee the membership drive. Four other party leaders from different corners of the country--Dushyant Gautam, Suresh Pujari, Arun Chaturvedi and Sobha Surendran--will assist him.

Gautam is a former head of the party’s Scheduled Caste cell and currently one of the national vice presidents of the BJP. Pujari is a Lok Sabha member who won the 2019 polls from Bargarh in Odisha and has also looked at party activities in West Bengal. Chaturvedi is a former state unit chief of Rajasthan BJP, while Surendran is from Kerala. Chouhan would announce the scheduled for the membership drive next week.

The BJP follows the principle of 'one person, one post'. Shah, now that he is the home minister of the country, is set to demit office in the coming months. The membership drive will be followed by elections at all levels of the BJP's organisation and culminate with electing Shah's successor. Party leaders J P Nadda, who was not included in the council of ministers, and Rajya Sabha member Bhupender Yadav are in the running.

In his speech, Shah also noted that 10 lakh workers of the 11 crore members attended party's training programmes, while 400,000 devoted their time and energy for the party's cause during the birth centenary year of Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in 2017-18.

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