Mumbai: Amit Shah's pep talk fails to boost morale of BJP workers

The BJP chief spent the entire day with workers and leaders from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa at a Bandra auditorium and assured them that the party would tide over the current crises; leaders, however, said that battling public perception in view of the scam allegations is an uphill task

With BJP leaders finding themselves at the receiving end of the ire of farmers thanks to rains playing truant and other voters because of allegations of scams in Maharashtra and developments in the Vyapam scam, even an address by their party chief, Amit Shah, couldn’t really boost their morale yesterday.

Amit Shah and CM Devendra Fadnavis at the event at the Rang Sharada Auditorium yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Amit Shah and CM Devendra Fadnavis at the event at the Rang Sharada Auditorium yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Shah, considered the architect of the BJP’s massive win in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls last year, spent the entire day with party workers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa at Bandra’s Rang Sharda Auditorium and addressed them twice during a review meeting of the ‘Maha Sampark Abhiyan’.

He made a brave attempt to lift the spirits of the leaders by dismissing allegations and said some people were running certain news items against the BJP in pursuit of an agenda. “Nothing will happen to our party if such small things are shown as news against us.

You must have faith in our leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because he alone has the strength to face storms,” Shah said, adding that the party needed to work in such a manner that it should not need any help from others (read the Shiv Sena) to form its government next time.

Perception battle
But many leaders, who gave Shah a huge round of applause in the auditorium, seemed a lot less enthused when mid-day asked them how they planned to execute their president’s mantras (see box). “I’m not sure how the people in my region will react if I give them a sermon the way our president just did.

Distressed farmers want relief from our governments in the state and Centre. Evasive rains have added to the farmers’ woes and they are committing suicide. The allegations of scams are also making it difficult for us to face the voters.

We are sure that the allegations are false, but the public perception is difficult to change immediately when a hostile media is launching attacks on our party,” said a senior party functionary. At least 10 district level-leaders mid-day spoke to yesterday voiced serious concerns even though they were firm in their belief that the BJP governments in the state and at the Centre were doing good work. “The fact is that this current period is not conducive for us.

The opposition is out on the streets against us. I’m not sure whether BJP workers, who are in power now and hence a bit laidback will counter the Congress and NCP with the same enthusiasm,” said another leader.

Tough times
In a ray of hope, the Devendra Fadnavis government released R400 crore relief for farmers on Wednesday. This help will go to the farmers who were denied assistance in 2014 because they didn’t have bank accounts.

The government is, however, under further pressure to grant a loan waiver for the farmers, and the loss of power in the Bhandara and Gondia Zilla Parishads is also seen as a matter of concern in the BJP camp. The events of yesterday also all but confirmed that the BJP is expected to face a tough opposition in the Monsoon Session of the state legislature next week.

The Congress held a state-wide protest against the government with all its big guns, including ex-CMs Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Narayan Rane, taking to the streets in their respective districts. BJP’s ruling partner, the Shiv Sena, has also been lapping up opportunities to capitalise on its ally’s distress.

After the allegations of corruption were made against BJP ministers, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has said that he had been asking voters to give him absolute power because there was corruption everywhere, and he wanted to end it.

Shah’s mantras for BJP workers
>> Work in such a manner that we don’t need any other party to form our government next time.
>> Audit all BJP-sponsored NGOs for their financial status, or just shut them
>> Reach out to people and stop behaving like an opposition party because you are in power now
>> Have a Central Edit Cell for all BJP-sponsored publications (for uniformity in editorial policy)
>> Train 15 lakh party workers in 3 months in public relations

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