Despite BJP’s show of strength at prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally in Mumbai, party leaders admit that they need to ensure greater mobilisation at the grass roots to reach out to a fresh constituency of voters for a strong seat tally in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Political analysts say the BJP will need to overcome its factional wars to put up a good show in 2014 and also consolidate its political base in rural areas against the Congress-NCP. “Any rally does not affect politics per se, though it helps mobilise workers and motivate them...while putting up a show of strength. This will seek to mentally weaken the Congress. An election is like a war where a psychologically weaker party may find it tough to win,” said a senior BJP leader, admitting that the party needed to ensure that factional fights did not break out during the nominations to elections.
“Ground level and grass roots mobilisation of workers is necessary,” he said, adding this is necessary to mobilise a vast number of voters, especially in rural areas.
“The Maharashtra BJP has internal leadership and organisational tussles which cannot be cemented over by the crowd (at Sunday’s rally),” said Surendra Jondhale, professor, department of civic and politics at the University of Mumbai. “The (socio-economic) realities in the rural areas are different. The BJP may have shown its strength in the rally, but it has no option but to rely on the Shiv Sena and the Republican Party of India (Athavale) in the elections,” he added, alluding to the wider and diverse social base that the Sena enjoys, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.
The Shiv Sena and BJP together account for just 20 of the state’s 48 Lok Sabha seats. In 2009, the alliance lost all six seats in Mumbai, largely due to the presence of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the fray.
Jondhale added that the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra would also depend on the distribution of seats between the BJP, Shiv Sena and RPI (A) and the candidates put up by the rival Congress and NCP and also the MNS, which is seen to be cutting into the traditional saffron votes.
The presence of Modi is said to have pushed BJP as the senior partner in the saffron alliance in Maharashtra, reversing the previous power equations.
However, a senior BJP leader from Mumbai said: “The attendance at the rally has shown that the people are inclined towards the BJP and Narendra Modi... but our workers will need to work hard and focus on local issues to garner votes.” He also claimed that while attracting youth and first-time voters, Modi’s projection could help cut down on the influence of the MNS, whose presence in the fray in 2009 had led to the defeat of the Sena and BJP in nine Lok Sabha seats.
“The middle class which was attracted to Manmohan Singh’s leadership in 2009 due to his clean image may now support us along with floating voters,” the leader said.
Political analysts say the BJP will need to overcome its factional wars to put up a good show in 2014 and also consolidate its political base in rural areas against the Congress-NCP. “Grass roots mobilisation of workers is necessary,” a leader agreed, adding this is necessary to mobilise a vast number of voters, especially in rural areas.