Using lunch box to mobilise party - the Modi way

August 12th, 2011 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi Gandhinagar, Aug 12 (IANS) After becoming the longest serving chief minister in Gujarat’s history, Narendra Modi has hit upon a unique idea to mobilise his supporters: the lunch box.

Although the next assembly elections are scheduled only in December 2012, Modi has put a well-crafted strategy in place to win handsomely.

In a warm up exercise for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers, more than 1,800 ‘tiffin box meetings’ have been planned across the state.

This amounts to 10 gatherings by the party’s nine cells in each of the 182 constituencies in Gujarat.

The ‘tiffin’ meetings are actually informal lunch get togethers where party workers gather at one spot, carrying with them homemade food neatly packed in tiffin boxes.

A state-level leader conducts the meeting, elaborating on the BJP ideology and organisation and ways to strengthen the BJP units in the region.

Once the meeting gets over, the party workers open their lunch (or tiffin) boxes and share their meals.

According to BJP media convenor Jagdish Bhavsar, these meetings over lunch are attended by senior party functionaries, including Modi.

And they are proving a great hit to galvanise party members.

The party has already conducted about 200 such meetings, Bhavsar said.

Highly placed sources in the Gujarat BJP say that Modi has set for himself the objective of winning 150 seats in the 182-member house.

Having wrested the record of becoming the longest serving chief minister in Gujarat from Congress veteran Madhavsinh Solanki, Modi aims to break another of Solanki’s records set in 1985 when he won 148 assembly seats.

A party organisation man, Modi had not held any position outside it - not even that of a ’sarpanch’ - before he was nominated by the BJP to take over as chief minister Oct 7, 2001.

Returned to power with a thumping majority in 2002 under the shadow of the Godhra train carnage and later communal riots, Modi was elected for a third time Dec 23, 2007.

The BJP now has 122 legislators as against 54 of the Congress. The other seats are with smaller parties and independents.

In 2007, the BJP won 117 seats and the Congress 59 but the former picked up five more in subsequent by-elections.

Another initiative from Modi, but at the government level, is the dispersal of district level powers to tehsil level governance.

Beginning April 28, the scheme, ‘Apno Taluko, Vibrant Taluko’ (ATVT), was launched in 51 talukas to coincide with the start of the 51st year since Gujarat was born.

“What I am doing now will be understood only six months later,” Modi had said then.

“Gujarat today stands on 26 pillars (26 districts), I want to make it stand on 225 pillars (225 talukas),” he said.

BJP strategists are convinced that this decentralisation of power would help them demolish the Congress in 2012.

With administrative attention focused on ATVT, the ‘garib kaliyan melas’, the highly publicised loan-cum-aid rallies for the poor, have been shelved for now.

“If he has to achieve his objective of winning handsomely, Modi must majorly dent the Congress vote bank and also worst its key leaders,” said a party leader.

It is no wonder that the ATVT scheme was launched from Dabhoi, the political base of former Gujarat Congress chief Siddarth Patel, son of former chief minister Chimanbhai Patel.

Modi has also fashioned a loose version of Madhavsinh Solanki’s KHAM theory. Solanki used KHAM (a combination of Kshatriyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims) to break the stranglehold of Patels in Gujarat.

(R.K.Misra can be contacted at rk.misra@ians.in)

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