BJP Workers Betray Concern for 2019 Polls at National Convention
Around 12,000 delegates from across the length and breadth of India gathered at the BJP National Convention in Delhi on 11-12 January, held after the party lost Assembly elections in the Hindi heartland. The party used the convention to look ahead to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The mood was optimistic, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath drawing the loudest applause – in that order – as they walked to the podium to deliver speeches on Saturday. "Iss Baar, Phirse Modi Sarkaar! (This time, the Modi government again),” chanted the crowd.
However, one couldn't help notice that the BJP's losses in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have left an impression on BJP attendees.
"We have come here to get energy from Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. We want to go back to our people in Nagaland and tell them we can win the 2019 elections," BJP worker Nung Sang from Nagaland told The Quint.
When asked if he had any doubts, he spoke about the loss in the three Assembly elections.
"After coming here, we feel there is no need to worry. We feel energised and we will spread the word back home that the BJP is still strong," he said.
Sangeeta Thombre, an MLA from Maharashtra's Beed district, and Monica Ragale, an MLA from Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, acknowledge the party’s needs to re-look at strategy.
"The mistakes we made in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will not be repeated in the Lok Sabha polls. We will go back and work and strategise to ensure the BJP comes to power again," Thombre said, adding that they will meet all the obstacles the party will face head on.
Ragale, who is attending the conference for the first time, said, "We had to leave from PM Modi's speech halfway, but we will take all the positives from this convention and bring it to our constituency," she said.
Shanmuga Sundaram, who idolises Modi, brings up the BJP's loss in the three states and says, "The party will bounce back. Some work is needed and we will work together for it."
To ensure Modi is re-elected to power, he says he will not wear a shirt.
"I have not worn a shirt since 1 April 2018 and I don't plan to. This is my worship to my god who resides in me," he said.
Shreyan Sahu from Jhansi didn't have the necessary pass to attend the meet. Strolling outside the Ramlila Maidan with a bag in his hand, he professed his love for Narendra Modi.
"Our PM Narendra Modi has done everything right, but the elected representatives of the party don't work on the ground. This is why he lost these three states and this is why he might lose in the upcoming polls as well. Mind you, it will not be Modi's fault."
There were others too who were not as critical of the party’s losses in the recent Assembly polls. Saying that it is a non-event in the larger scheme of things, many said that while states might go to other parties, the country will continue to vote for the BJP.
The two-day event was the BJP’s grand affair where a spirit of togetherness was strong. And the face of the team was not the party, but the prime minister himself. The busiest stall at the meet was the merchandise store where caps, Modi face masks and sweatshirts with 'NAMO AGAIN' were sold-out before the end of the day.
The party workers have placed their bets on their prime minister and are taking back with them the hope of a victory in the big one after a string of losses.