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Amit Shah sets target for 2018 MP assembly polls

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-08-2017 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Mumbai: Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national president Amit Shah has set a target of two-thirds majority for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh assembly elections scheduled late 2018. The state BJP has also been directed to focus on the three Lok Sabha seats—Chhindwara, Guna, and Ratlam—which the Congress party represents. Congress candidates Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia had won from Chhindwara and Guna respectively in the 2014 general elections while Congress nominee Kantilal Bhuria defeated his BJP rival in the bypoll to the Ratlam constituency in November 2015. These three seats are part of Shah’s plan for 150 seats across the country where the BJP lost out in 2014 but which hold the potential for victory in 2019, according to BJP functionaries in Madhya Pradesh. 

At least two BJP functionaries who attended some of the party meetings that Shah addressed over a period of three days in Bhopal said the party president had asked the cadres to make a clean sweep in Madhya Pradesh in the 2019 general elections. “We would like to concentrate more on those seats where we have suffered losses. The party president has said that we have to maintain and improve our performance in the 2013 assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls in 2018 and 2019,” Madhya Pradesh BJP’s spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai said in an interview. 

In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly, the BJP has 165 legislators and the Congress 56. Of the 29 Lok Sabha seats from Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has 26 and the Congress three. 

This was Shah’s longest visit to Madhya Pradesh after becoming the party president and he held meetings with party office-bearers, legislators, ministers, and MPs. “He took a comprehensive review of the organizational presence and activities in Madhya Pradesh. He also held informal meetings with professionals including doctors, engineers, students, and media houses to get their feedback. The Madhya Pradesh visit is part of the nation-wide journey our president has embarked on to review, strengthen, and expand the organization further,” Bajpai said. Asked if the recent farmers’ protest came up for discussions, Bajpai said the party president “discussed everything”. “He discussed the party and political situation in the state and current developments. Everybody now knows that the so-called farm protest was a political conspiracy but we discussed it too,” he said.

A senior BJP functionary in Bhopal, who did not want to be identified, said Shah had suggested a “wider and deeper deployment of the party cadres and different cells within the party” ahead of the 2018 and 2019 elections. “Some legislators complained that some ministers were not communicating well with the cadres at the constituency level and there was a disconnect in some places between the government’s performance and perception. This was one of the reasons why the party could not anticipate the flare-up in the farm protest,” said the BJP functionary. 

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