At a closed-door meeting of senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, who had gathered for the party’s national executive in January last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the perils of complacency and over-confidence. Laying out the agenda for the Lok Sabha polls, he told his party colleagues that resting on laurels and relying too much on his popularity for winning elections would prove to be their undoing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (ANI)

The BJP, which has had a good run at the hustings since 2014 and tasted success in a bunch of state polls in the last decade, has had its share of losses as well. The most recent was in the Telangana assembly poll, which the party was confident of winning.

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In 2018, a spate of losses in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh and the by-poll in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, the bastion of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, sounded an alarm. These losses were attributed largely to the cadre dropping the ball after a resounding win in 2014.

The party reclaimed these states in 2023, but the credit was given to Modi’s appeal among the people. He is the party’s biggest campaigner and vote puller.

Now as the party has set out to meet the target of winning 370 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, there is a clear instruction from the top leadership against complacency and over-confidence, especially in states where the party’s past performance has been exemplary such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka.

In 2019, the party won 62 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 39 of the 40 in Bihar in alliance with the Janata Dal (United), 28 of 29 in Madhya Pradesh, 24 of 25 in Rajasthan, 11 of the 14 in Jharkhand, nine of 11 in Chhattisgarh and 25 of the 28 in Karnataka.

While the opinion polls and the pollsters are predicting an easy win for the BJP and its allies, senior party leaders have been asked to ensure there is no slip-up in canvassing on the ground. A leader in Rajasthan said although the cadre is buoyed by the recent win in the state elections, and opinion polls such as the one by India TV-CNX, which shows that BJP is likely to repeat its 2019 performance in the state, there are constant reminders to the workers to not slack.

Door-to-door campaigns, digital outreach, corner meetings in addition to road shows, programmes for professionals have been lined up as part of the election campaign.

In Madhya Pradesh, where the recent win in the state polls exceeded expectations, the message to candidates and cadre is to keep pushing the narrative about “Modi ki Guarantee” instead of relying entirely on “Modi ki rally”.


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By Singh Anoop

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