Signs of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections are there in the BJP’s Gujarat 2022 election campaign.

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Gujarat’s voting ends on Monday, and results will be announced on December 8. They will serve as a crucial gauge of PM Modi’s support ahead of the midterm elections.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he approaches the voting booth on Monday in Ahmedabad for the second round of the election for the Gujarat state assembly.
(AFP)
Dhansukh Patel, a devoted supporter and longtime member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was deep in conversation with aides on tactics to attract new supporters to the party on a recent Friday morning.
Patel is determined to get the majority of the 1,400 residents of his village of Umber to cast their ballots for the BJP during the state elections taking place in Gujarat’s western region. His eleven-person team has been knocking on doors, sending WhatsApp messages, and assisting families in enrolling in government welfare programmes that give them free food and medical aid. They do this with the support of a database with information about local voters compiled over time.
Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Political analysts say a defeat in the state, where he served as chief minister for more than ten years, is unlikely. However, the party apparatus has been operating at full capacity for months. The party is trying to reach every section of the state and sway every unsure voter with the aid of an army of workers like Patel, who are effectively helping it walk the last mile.
However, the BJP’s election apparatus extends far beyond the elections in Gujarat. In preparation for the national elections in 2024, when he is anticipated to once again lead the party for a third straight term, Modi wants to broaden his network of supporters and maintain momentum. It’s a massive undertaking led by foot soldiers like Patel that demonstrates how the BJP developed from a fringe organisation into the largest party in the world with more than 180 million members—about twice as many as the Communist Party of China is said to have.
Patel, 60, claims he has devoted all of his time to volunteering for the party since he retired two years ago. He flipped through pages of papers naming nearby villagers and their contact details and remarked, “Rallies are good, but door-to-door canvassing is most effective.
Gujarat’s voting ends on Monday, and the results will be announced on December 8. They will serve as a crucial gauge of Modi’s support ahead of the midterm elections. Along the way, the BJP adds to the work of individuals like Patel by conducting thorough surveys to get it ready for both state and federal elections.
Even the highest echelons of the BJP are interested in data. In addition to the party’s official survey, Amit Shah, the minister of Home Affairs and its chief strategist, personally works with expert teams to gather information from the ground and double-check information provided by party officials, according to two people familiar with the situation. According to political observers and party members, Shah often concentrates on determining issues, estimating risk, creating plans, and forming social alliances.
A BJP spokesperson declined to respond.
The Congress party, the major opposition to the BJP, lacks sufficient resources on the ground and has been working to make up lost ground after suffering its worst-ever loss in the 2014 elections that propelled Modi to national power.
According to Nalin Mehta, dean of the School of Modern Media at UPES University in Dehradun and author of “The New BJP,” the BJP’s unapologetic emphasis on Hindu nationalism, development of new social and caste coalitions, and focus on women and welfare programmes made it the “primary pole of Indian politics, replacing the Congress.”
According to political scientist Mehta, “all of these elements come together with a formidable grassroots cadre and a relentless managerial concentration on winnability to produce a powerful election machine that may frequently make the difference in close battles.” As India’s opposition parties prepare for the upcoming general elections in 2024, this heightens their task.
In addition, the BJP is the wealthiest political party in India, with income in the fiscal year 2021 exceeding the total wealth of the next seven largest national parties, providing it a significant financial advantage over competitors.
According to Niranjan Zanzmera, chairman of the BJP in Surat city, local leaders and candidates only incur a very little amount of money, with the majority being covered by the national leadership, including the cost of celebrity campaigners and publicity.
As the BJP launches initiatives, such as worker training camps, as part of its preparation for other state assembly elections, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh next year, Gujarat will serve as a model.
According to two senior figures aware with the matter, the BJP has also developed action plans for the national elections of 2024 with the goal of regaining the 144 seats that were not awarded to them in 2019.
The party begins early election planning. By electing a new chief minister in September 2021, it sprang into action in Gujarat to win the state for the eighth time in a row. In Gujarat, it also persuaded a powerful local leader from the Congress party to defect to the BJP in June.
The head of the BJP unit in Surat district, Jagdish Parekh, claimed that for at least six months prior to the Gujarat elections, his team had been recruiting new members, establishing village-level committees, studying caste and religious data, and establishing call centres.
The gathering of such data, according to him, can aid in the choice of candidates, the concentration on neighbourhood organisations, the targeting of messaging for unsure voters, and the development of social ties.
More than 10,000 employees and 60,000 volunteers are working across Gujarat on social media, a crucial battleground in the Indian elections, to produce material and keep an eye on opposition activities, according to Manan Dani, the state’s co-convener for social media. Three full-fledged war rooms have been set up for election campaigning in Gujarat, he said, while the party’s social media cell is active throughout the year.
The BJP is not unbeatable, despite its extensive network. Due in part to the lack of strong local leaders, it has lost in various states, notably Delhi. Although the party is attempting to gain ground there, it doesn’t have a base in the southern states.
Senior leader of the opposition Congress party Rama Chandra Khuntia claimed that the Congress cannot afford to spend as much as the BJP does on political marketing, paid news, and advertisements.
After Gandhi’s statewide march, which started in early September, the Congress is still making progress, according to Khuntia. The general elections will see a fierce fight from us.
In Gujarat, the regional Aam Aadmi Party, which is in power in Punjab and Delhi, is a strong competitor. Anup Sharma, a leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, stated that while it might not be able to compete with the BJP’s financial resources and number of last-mile party employees, it can with its social media presence and committed volunteers.
Even while the BJP makes a significant effort on the ground, Modi continues to serve as its brand ambassador and lead campaigner, speaking directly to voters at rallies. Since November, he has spoken at roughly 35 rallies for the Gujarat election, addressing farmers, young people, and women. Gandhi, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has only spoken at two public gatherings in Gujarat.
Even so, according to author and political commentator Arati Jerath of New Delhi, the BJP’s chances of winning the national elections are not guaranteed because of voter resentment over unemployment and price increases.
However, Jerath noted that the BJP has an advantage since it is “a master in the art of communication through social media and good at utilising its resources in a very focused manner.” They are skilled in managing elections.

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