After second wave dented Govt image, campaign aimed to galvanise party, showcase PM as ‘gareebon ka masiha’.
FROM 14 crore ration bags printed with his picture to 5 crore “Thank-you Modiji” postcards mailed from booths nationwide, from identifying 71 spots for clean-up in rivers to a high-voltage social media campaign showcasing vaccination videos and seminars on his life and work: these are among the key elements of a three-week-long campaign the BJP will roll out to showcase Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Timed with his 71st birthday (September 17) and 20 years of his public life as an administrator (October 7, 2001, when he first became Gujarat CM), this unprecedented drive holds significance in the wake of the brutal second wave of the Covid pandemic.
The death and distress, both in lives and livelihood, that touched countless homes is widely believed — even within the party — as having dented popular confidence in the Modi government.
Since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi has been the pivot — and face — of almost all major BJP political campaigns with all flagship social welfare schemes having carried his imprimatur.
In the past, the party has marked his birthday as “Seva Saptah” but the drive this year has been widened as “Seva aur Samarpan Abhiyan.” The goal this time is also to galvanise the rank and file – hard hit in the second wave – ahead of crucial Assembly elections early next year. With the second wave abating and over 70 crore having received at least the first dose, the party hopes such a campaign will help reshape its narrative.
At a recent meeting, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh unveiled the contours of this campaign to the party’s national office bearers, state-incharges and senior state unit functionaries.
Some of the key activities assigned to party workers and discussed by Singh, who will also oversee the entire drive, include:
* Target to distribute 14 crore bags, each with picture of Modi, thanking the PM for the 5 kg per person ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana (2.16 crore bags have been distributed by BJP state governments).
* Push videos of beneficiaries thanking Modi for his help during the pandemic to signal that “Gareebon ka masiha Modi ji hi hain.” (Modi as messiah of the poor).
* 5 crore ‘Thank You Modiji’ post cards to be mailed directly to the PM for his contribution towards welfare of the poor by mobilising people at the booth level.
* 71 spots (Modi turns 71) to be identified in rivers for clean-up.
* Videos thanking Modi for Covid vaccination by those getting vaccinated.
* Meetings/seminars involving prominent people from different walks of life (arts, culture, sports etc) at district and state levels on the PM’s life and work.
* Noted writers to comment on Modi’s governance in the vernacular media.
* Registration drive for eligible children who lost parents and are covered under PM-CARES scheme
* Public mobilisation towards bidding for mementos received by the PM
These come over and above the events party workers hold each year as part of “Seva Saptah” to mark Modi’s birthday: health check-up and blood donation camps to food distribution at old-age homes.
Since this period will also include the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2) and Deen Dayal Upadhyay (September 25), party workers have been advised to continue with “constructive works or activities” on these two days at their respective polling booths.
At the meeting, Singh is said to have told his party colleagues that the distribution of ration bags with the PM’s picture will help strengthen the impression that “gareebon ke masiha hain.” The PM-GKAY announced last year during the first wave was relaunched this year during the second wave and will continue till Diwali this year.
Singh suggested that the women’s wing could lend its weight to this. Wall paintings fade away, he said, but when a ration bag reaches home, “the women will keep it with care and BJP-BJP will be visible everywhere,” he said.
Singh suggested that party workers and public representatives visit their nearest vaccination centre and called on workers to ensure video clips be circulated “tikakaran ke bhi aur ration bag ka bhi – ki Pradhanmantriji ne bahut bada kaam kiya hai”. (vidoes of both vaccination and ration bags – to signal the PM’s achievement.)
Saying that beneficiaries of cash transfer to Jan-Dhan accounts and PM-KISAN can be found at the polling booth level across the country, Singh asked party workers to mobilise the public from each booth to send ‘Thank You, Modiji’ cards.
After the second wave abated, the PM, on his part, overhauled his Cabinet to signal a refresh and a reset. However, party leaders said, this change could not be felt during the deadlocked Parliament session. The BJP, subsequently, launched Jan-Ashirwad Yatra drive for over three dozen new ministers across different parts of the country. Now comes the birthday push.
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