Amit Shah's 'Sampark for Samarthan' is a smart strategy to take on united Opposition
How BJP plans to win friends, influence people.
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On May 29, BJP president Amit Shah launched his party's massive outreach programme, “Sampark for Samarthan (contact for support)”, aiming to highlight the achievements of the Narendra Modi-led government over the past four years.
As part of the programme, Shah will personally contact at least 50 people (read “influencers”) to enlighten them about the achievements of the Modi government. About 4,000 BJP functionaries, from chief ministers, Union ministers, right down to panchayat members, across the country will contact one lakh people who are recognised names in their respective fields to inform them about the government's achievements and programmes, the party said.
The BJP president Amit Shah has already met former Indian Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, followed by a meeting with constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap. In these interactions, Shah discussed the Central government's welfare programme with both the well-known Army chief and the man of constitutional letters.
Amit Shah with former Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag. [Photo: PTI]
Amit Shah with constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap. [Photo: PTI]
As the programme began, the BJP chief tweeted: "Launched the nationwide campaign 'Sampark for Samarthan', a door-to-door initiative aimed at making people aware of the transformative initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji's government in the last four years."
Every party worker has been instructed to contact 10 people themselves and tell them about the government's achievements. To help them in this initiative, a special section has been created in the Narendra Modi app, called “Sampark for Samarthan”.
While this initiative to connect will definitely help the party reach out to influencers, it will also counter the opposition charge of “arrogance” and ignoring civil society often heaped on the ruling party. The prime minister himself is reaching out directly to beneficiaries through the NaMo App. Interacting with the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which was launched on May 1, 2016, the PM on May 28 said that the flagship scheme has positively impacted the lives of several people across India. He said that the scheme has strengthened the lives of the poor, marginalised, Dalits and tribals.
“This initiative is playing a central role in social empowerment”, he said.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, OBCs, Dalits and tribals had voted in large numbers for the BJP. Currently, this outreach is also aimed at countering Dalit angst over the increasing crimes against the community as well as the recent dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, which led to large-scale protests. The party would also hope that directly reaching out to beneficiaries will counter the political impact of the recent coming together of erstwhile bitter rivals BSP and SP under the umbrella of a “grand alliance”.
Dalit angst over the dilution of the SC/ST Atrocities Act. [Photo: Reuters]
Besides its own formidable social media team, the outreach to prominent citizens, be it army men, sportspersons or social media influencers, is a well-calculated move on the part of the BJP to increase its influence — and create a new role for those not traditionally considered “intellectuals”, the title generally reserved for academics et al. But, with social media playing such a prominent role in all electoral battles now, these netizens can help the BJP spread its achievements among their millions of followers. Further, with “nationalism” becoming a buzzword, who better to target than the men in olive to enlist powerful support.
The social media strength of these influencers will be a major fillip to the BJP's efforts to retain the governance crown for Modi in 2019.
The saffron party is a master when it comes to using technology, along with its massive cadre base. The PM is known to use 3D hologram technology to address several rallies simultaneously, something used with great impact in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The PM's personal outreach using the NaMo App along with Contact for Support will help the party reach the masses directly. With the government increasingly coming under opposition attack for not delivering on its poll promises, this strategy would help the BJP counter the negative narrative.
With by-polls for four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly seats over on May 28, the BJP president has already dived into perhaps his biggest challenge yet — taking on the grand opposition alliance as well as its own discontented alliance partners.
While the principal opposition party, the Congress, which formed a post-poll alliance government in Karnataka, is still fighting over the allocation of portfolios with alliance partner JD(S), the BJP, it seems, has already kick-started its campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
If the opposition wants to seriously take on the Modi-Amit Shah duo, they will have to do more than just take potshots at them on Twitter.
Forming a grand alliance may be a good start — but to take on the Modi government, the opposition parties will have to hit the ground running and re-strategise. At the moment, opposition groups look more interested in influencing the perks of imagined power. In contrast, the BJP has started reaching out to real influencers who could get them more real power.