Nadda to BJP: Grab Gandhi chance
BJP working president J.P. Nadda has in a letter to party leaders stressed that the upcoming events to observe Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary will provide the party an opportunity to establish itself as the “true inheritor of Gandhiji’s principles” and asked them to achieve the goal by undertaking 15-day-long “Gandhi Sankalp Yatras”.
“Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary is a great opportunity to increase the general awareness amongst the public of Gandhiji’s principles, but more importantly, also provides us with a chance to establish the BJP as the true inheritor of Gandhiji’s principles,” the letter sent to all national office-bearers, state presidents, state general secretaries (organisation) and MPs says while laying down in detail how the BJP plans to mark the event.
Despite concerted efforts by the BJP to repeatedly invoke Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to project himself as a devout follower of the principles espoused by the Father of the Nation, the party has not been able to establish itself as the “true inheritor”.
The BJP’s bid has suffered jolts with some party members such as newly elected Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur hailing Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot” and not facing action. The saffron-robed Pragya was let off by the BJP after she apologised for her statement terming Godse a “patriot” despite BJP chief Amit Shah promising “strong action”.
Nadda’s letter asking BJP leaders to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi is in adherence to a call given by Modi, who has asked party leaders and elected members to organise 15-day yatras starting on October 2 and each cover 150km to spread awareness among the people.
The letter gives detailed instructions on how the yatras should be undertaken and asks leaders to strictly follow it. A section titled “frequently asked questions” lays down the dos and don’ts for the yatra, stressing the need for “sadhgi” (simplicity).
“All party representatives and cadre members will have to wear clothes made from Khadi cloth as an ode to the Father of the Nation and promotion of swadeshi cloth,” the letter says in answer to the question “what should be the apparel for the Gandhi Yatra?”
“Also products like Khadi bags, ethnic Khadi jackets etc can be carried by the members. All members are requested to refrain from wearing flamboyant apparel and maintain the theme of ‘sadhgi’,” the letter says.
It asks the leaders to traverse 5-10km a day and in the process cover 75-150km in 15 days. This is the “minimum” target, the maximum being 15km a day and a total of 225km in 15 days. The leaders have been asked to spend the night in villages, have food with villagers and try to “involve members of all communities and castes in the yatra to propagate Gandhiji’s thoughts of social inclusiveness”.
“For all 15 days of the yatra, a crowd size of minimum 50-100 people each day has to be present…. At sabha (public meeting) events… crowd upwards of 500 people will be optimal,” the letter says.
During the yatras, the leaders have been asked to focus on Modi’s Independence Day call for “plastic-free India”, “water conservation”, “population control” and “Digital India”.
“It is important for each member to highlight that schemes and developmental work undertaken by central BJP and BJP state governments have used Gandhiji’s principles as a touchstone,” the letter says.