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Shivraj Chouhan to head BJP's membership drive, party to select new chief

BJP won 303 Lok Sabha seats in elections but it still has to peak, says Amit Shah.

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

PM Modi flashes the victory sign along with the party President Amit Shah, as they arrive at the party headquarters to celebrate their victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
PM Modi flashes the victory sign along with the party President Amit Shah, as they arrive at the party headquarters to celebrate their victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi | Photo: PTI

President and Home Minister on Thursday said the party “has still not peaked in terms of its electoral performance despite winning 303 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls".

The party has planned a membership drive focussed on states where it felt there was a need for an improvement in its performance, especially Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, will lead the BJP's renewed membership drive that would culminate into the party’s organisational polls and the election of a successor to Shah.

The membership drive, to begin on July 6, the birth anniversary of icon Syama Prasad Mukherjee, will aim at increasing the BJP’s membership by 20 per cent. Party sources said Shah will remain the party chief at least until the Assembly polls in Haryana, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra, and possibly, until the membership drive is over by the end of the year.

The says it has 110 million members. The party had conducted its last membership drive in 2016, and a subsequent internal survey had found several anomalies in the details of new members. However, the believes such membership drives, despite anomalies, help galvanise the party cadre and strengthen outreach in regions where it needs to improve its presence.

At a meeting of the party’s state unit chiefs and central office-bearers on Thursday, Shah reminded them that in his inaugural presidential address on August 9, 2014, he had said the party was yet to achieve its “peak” despite getting a simple majority in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Shah said the BJP received 50 per cent or more votes in 220 of the 303-seats it won in the 2019 polls, and its vote share was more than 50 per cent in 16 states and Union Territories. Shah said he would repeat himself to say the BJP had “still not peaked in terms of its electoral performance”.

Shah implored the party leadership to reach out to people as part of its sanghathan parva, or membership drive, in states where the BJP needed to improve, particularly southern states. Four party leaders from different corners of the country — Dushyant Gautam, Suresh Pujari, Arun Chaturvedi and Sobha Surendran — will assist Chouhan with the drive.

Gautam is a former head of the party’s Scheduled Caste cell and is one of the vice-presidents of the BJP. Pujari is a Lok Sabha member, who won the polls from Bargarh in Odisha and has also looked at party activities in West Bengal. Chaturvedi is a former Rajasthan unit chief of the BJP, while Surendran is from Kerala.

Chouhan will announce the schedule for the membership drive next week.

First Published: Thu, June 13 2019. 16:32 IST
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