BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday held a closed-door assessment meeting of senior party leaders here and asked them to prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls without an alliance in Maharashtra with Shiv Sena.
The Sena-BJP alliance is sailing in troubled waters for months and the situation got worsened when the former decided not to support its ally at the Centre in the recently held no trust motion moved by TDP. Moreover, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Samna’ often goes highly critical of the Modi led NDA government.
After attending the meetings, Shah met melody queen Lata Mangeshkar at her home in south Mumbai as part of the party’s “contact for support” campaign.
Earlier in the day, the BJP chief, who was supposed to reach Mumbai before noon, landed at the city airport at 1 PM due to some developments in New Delhi.
He spent the entire day in ‘Vasant Smruti’ building, the BJP headquarter, in south-central Mumbai, a BJP official said.
At the meeting, Shah laid down a 23-point working strategy and discussed issues such as increasing the party strength, addressing new voters’ groups based on their profession, gender, likings etc and a regular follow up of the voters by the local party workers.
“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.
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, Shah also interacted with the members of the ‘Lok Sabha Toli’, a group that consists of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister Devendra 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.
After the meetings concluded at 8.30 PM, Shah left for the party’s “Sampark Abhiyan” under which he met Mangeshkar (88).
The BJP chief was scheduled to meet Mangeshkar on June 6, but the visit was cancelled as she was down with food poisoning.
He was accompanied by Fadnavis, Danve and Shelar to Mangeshkar’s house .
On June 6, Mangeshkar had tweeted in Hindi that she had spoken to 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 today’s meeting, 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, Shah had called on actress Madhuri Dixit and industrialist Ratan Tata as part of his party’s “Sampark for Samarthan” (contact for support) campaign.