New Delhi, Feb. 4: The BJP is working on a three-forked strategy to “maximise” its projected gains in its strongholds, increase its base in potential growth states and regain its grip over the tribal belt.
Sources admitted that despite the rank-and-file’s cri de coeur for foregrounding the Gujarat chief minister on the national arena at the earliest, Modi himself would be reluctant to assume the role unless he was convinced that the BJP could “vastly” improve over its 2009 count of 116 Lok Sabha seats.
The source said Modi realised that at the “peak” of his “popularity” in Gujarat, he could just about retain his earlier tally in the latest Assembly polls and not enhance it.
The “moral” from the Gujarat verdict, the source said, was that the Congress, despite its strings of lows, could not be taken for granted for two reasons. First, because of the “institutional” structures it had embedded the country over through the decades it has been in power. Two, the Congress created vast networks of support through the patronage to such structures extended to generations of families.
Taking Gujarat as an example, sources said despite his best effort, Modi could not dent the Congress in the milk-cooperative belt of Kheda-Anand. If anything, the BJP lost considerably in another milk pocket, Mehsana.
Sources said the “communally-neutral” co-operatives stood largely by the Congress even when Gujarat was awash in a saffron wave. If Gujarat had the milk co-operatives, Maharashtra had the sugar lobby, held again by the Congress and its ally, the NCP.
Although the BJP has to fine-tune its ground strategies for 2014, sources said the broad contours that were outlined were maximising gains in the western part of India that began in Gujarat and went northwards to Jammu. When at its best in the ’90s, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu contributed substantially to the BJP’s gains.
Sources claimed the BJP-Shiv Sena could “sweep” Maharashtra (48 of 542 Lok Sabha seats) provided Sena spoiler, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, came along. Rajasthan (25 seats) and Punjab (13) were the other two where the BJP hoped to improve after the 2009 reverses.
The second aspect of its plan was to focus on Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. As things stand, Uttar Pradesh — that gives 80 Lok Sabha seats — looks dismal for the BJP. In 2009, it was down to just nine seats.
Some in the party felt that a dual projection of Modi and Kalyan Singh (who recently returned to the BJP) could regroup the backward castes because both these leaders are OBCs.
It is learnt that Modi, who is riding high on his version of the development agenda, was not enthused by the RSS-VHP’s plans to put Hindutva back on the BJP’s radar. Sources said he made it clear to the BJP leaders that he did not wish to be associated with the VHP’s congregation at the “Kumbh”.
If Modi visited the venue in Allahabad, it would be “religious” and not political, sources stressed.
In Bihar and Jharkhand, the party sources admitted that they were still dependent on allies.