Amit Shah asks ministers to visit districts

They will have to take stock of poll preparations, submit reports to State leadership

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Sunday directed all ministers in the State to tour districts solely to look after the party functioning and the preparations for the 2019 elections.

Mr. Shah held meetings with office-bearers from Maharashtra and Goa. According to leaders present in the meeting, each minister would be assigned two districts. “The minister has to periodically visit the districts, and it should be dedicated to the party work. The minister must not interfere with the government work,” a leader said.

The ministers are expected to send report to the State leadership. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has been given the responsibility to oversee the operations.

BJP MPs have also been asked to undertake campaigns in their constituencies about the Centre’s schemes. Mr. Shah asked the MPs to take the message and work of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to every voter.

The party president took stock of ongoing preparations for the elections. “Instructions have been given to complete the formation of booth-level committees [panna committees] by August 25,” the leader said.

In the past, each BJP MLA was tasked with the responsibility of their neighbouring constituency if that is not represented by the party. “He (Mr. Shah) inquired about the progress on that front as well. Directions have been given to increase the outreach in areas where the party has not won,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Congress on Sunday put up posters and banners with the photograph of its president Rahul Gandhi hugging the PM in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The posters also carried photograph of the party’s Mumbai president, Sanjay Nirupam, with a message: “Nafarat se nahi, pyaar se jitenge (not with enmity, we will win with love).”

PTI adds:

‘Prepare for contesting elections alone’

“The national president plainly stated that the strategy has to be implemented in all the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the state. At present, the BJP shares its political space with the Shiv Sena and a couple of smaller allies. It is a message that says ‘prepare for contesting elections alone’ We will have to rush as the general election are now less than a year away,” said a senior BJP minister who attended the meeting.

Mr. Shah also reviewed the BJP’s performance of 2014 polls, as Maharashtra is the second largest state in the country going by the number of Lok Sabha seats after Uttar Pradesh.

Of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, BJP had won 23, the Shiv Sena (18), the NCP four, the Congress two, and the Swabhimani Paksh, a former ally of the BJP, one.

Apart from meeting the ‘Vistaraks’ of the party whose mandate is to increase the network of the BJP in different geographies, Mr. Shah also interacted with the members of the ‘Lok Sabha Toli’, a group that consists of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Mr. Fadnavis, State unit chief Raosaheb Danve, Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar, Chandrakant Patil and Pankaja Munde, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, among others.

“The mandate of the group is to identify weaknesses of the party in certain areas, [ways] to overcome them and the current key issues related to the people of Maharashtra. The candidates who had contested and won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the current image of the candidates in the same constituency was also discussed at the general-level in this meeting,” the BJP official said.

He said the BJP is also mulling over holding some events with a view to demonstrate its strength and communicate with the people.

“…It could be in the form of discussions, holding bike rallies as well as some innovative ways of reaching out to certain groups of people,” the official said, without elaborating.

Shah meets Lata Mangeshkar

After the meetings concluded at 8.30 p.m., Mr. Shah left for the party’s “Sampark Abhiyan” under which he met melody queen Lata Mangeshkar (88).

The BJP chief was scheduled to meet ms. Mangeshkar on June 6, but the visit was cancelled as she was down with food poisoning.

He was accompanied by Mr. Fadnavis, Mr. Danve and Mr. Shelar to Ms. Mangeshkar’s house.

On June 6, Ms. Mangeshkar had tweeted in Hindi that she had spoken to Mr. Shah over phone and expressed her inability to meet him since she had suffered from food poisoning. She also requested that they can meet during his next visit to Mumbai.

In Sunday’s meeting, Mr. Shah presented the Bharat Ratna awardee with a booklet on the achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last four years.

On June 6, Mr. Shah had called on actress Madhuri Dixit and industrialist Ratan Tata as part of his party’s “Sampark for Samarthan” (contact for support) campaign.

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