BJP chief Amit Shah will start his party’s expansion drive from Naxalbari on Tuesday, a West Bengal village from where the left-wing extremism had started in the late 1960s.
The Trinamool Congress-ruled state is among the five states, including Odisha and Telangana, where he will spend three-day each as he looks to strengthen the party in the states where it has been traditionally weak, with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Announcing this at a press conference here, Union Minister Smriti Irani also used the occasion to take a dig at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
The workers of a party going through a crisis are looking for their leader, she said targeting Rahul, while the president of another party, which has won one election after another, is not resting on his laurels and working hard to strengthen it.
“This is the biggest difference between the BJP and the Congress,” she said, adding that the saffron party’s leaders believe in leading by example.
She referred to Amethi, a Gandhi family pocket borough where she had lost to him in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, as her constituency, as she has been “serving” it for the last three years.
Shah had entrusted her with electoral responsibility in all five assembly seats in Amethi during the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and the BJP won four of them while the Congress none, she said.
The textile minister regularly visits Amethi and has taken up welfare work there. The buzz in the BJP is that she will be pitted again from there in 2019 after putting up a strong fight against Gandhi in the last polls.
By starting his drive from booth number 93 at Naxalbari, Shah will give a message of solidarity to BJP workers, who have “suffered” violence there, Irani said. The party has accused the ruling TMC of unleashing violence on its workers in the state.
He will also take Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of “development for all” to a place where a violent movement to uproot Indian state had started, she said.
Besides Shah, top party leaders, including almost every union minister, have been roped in to drive the campaign at booth-level to boost the organisation’s prospects.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu, two states where it has always been a marginal force, are two other important states in this campaign, she said.
In the birth centenary year of its ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, the BJP had asked its volunteers to work full-time for the party while its government at the Centre launched several schemes, declaring it to be ‘garib kalyan varsh’ (year of poor’s welfare).
Over 3.68 lakh workers will work for the party across the country for 15 days and over 4,000 for anywhere between six months and a year, she said.