To win Delhi, BJP woos youth, Muslims, sect leaders

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New Delhi, Nov 30: Determined to win Delhi hands down, and not just touch the magic figure of 36 in the 70-member assembly, the BJP has identified three target groups in the city - youth, Muslims and sect leaders - and is going all out to woo them with public meetings and membership drives.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party in the Dec 2013 polls, winning 31 seats along with the support of a lone Akal Dal candidate. However, it failed to form a government as it needed four more seats for a simple majority.

BJP

Not in a mood to take any chances this time round, the party is seeking support from religious and spiritual gurus who have thousands of followers in the city while at the same time it is personally approaching the city's youth and Muslims hoping to influence their opinions.

According to a senior party leader, a section of the BJP's support base had drifted towards the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the last assembly elections.

However, with Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister coupled with the AAP's 49-day rule in Delhi, many of these people have now returned to the BJP fold, claimed a leader in the know of things.

"If elections are held today, our prospects are bright. However, we won't be satiated with touching the 36 seats mark and the central leadership in particular wants to win Delhi comprehensively and that is possible only when we create a new support base," the leader told IANS, not wishing to be identified.

"This is why we need to focus on these new target groups," he added.

Taking a cue from its Haryana victory, part of which is credited to the support that the party received from Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, the head of Dera Sacha Sauda which has a huge following in the state, a team of central leaders is in talks with religious and spiritual leaders who have their deras in Delhi and have the power to influence voters.

"We already have the support of (yoga guru) Baba Ramdev and we are hoping that the religious heads will give us their blessings to a leader (Modi) who has no hesitation in calling himself a proud Hindu," said the leader, refusing to give out any names.

As far as the Muslim votes are concerned, the BJP wants to make serious inroads as it feels that the community would turn to the party after the Congress failed to make a mark in the assembly elections.

In the December 2013 assembly elections,, the BJP won 31 seats, while AAP bagged 28 seats and formed the government with the backing of the Congress, whose tally was reduced from 43 to 8.

To improve its image among the minorities, the BJP has begun a series of public debates in over a dozen Muslim dominated constituencies. The meetings have been on since Nov 11.

"We are meeting the residents personally and clearing their doubts about the communal tag attached to the BJP. We are telling them about the schemes that the PM has launched, schemes that will benefit the poor of all religions. We want to make it clear that the BJP is not only for Hindus but others too," Atif Rashid, president of the Delhi BJP's minority cell, told IANS.

Rashid claimed that since Nov 11, over 20,000 Muslims have joined the party from various areas like Okhla, Chandni Chowk, Seelampur, Jaffarabad and Nangloi, where Muslims have a sizable presence. Muslims account for 11 percent of Delhi's 11.5 million voters.

"An ever-increasing number of people from these areas are now willing to listen to what we have to say about their future. The young Muslim too has dreams and now he is starting to realise that perhaps Modi is the man who can make it possible," Rashid added.

"We are not claiming that all the Muslims will vote for Modi but at least the winds of change have started to blow," he said.

Meanwhile, similar tactics are being used by the party's youth wing, which is going out on the streets to connect with the youth and induct new members.

At the recently concluded India International Trade Fair, party volunteers stood outside Pragati Maidan and interacted with the young visitors about their aspirations and expectations, Nakul Bhardwaj, president of the BJP's youth wing, told IANS, adding that over 30,000 youngsters ha joined the party.

"Modi has been successful in capturing the imagination of the youth. He enjoys their support and we need to translate this into votes in Delhi," he added.

IANS

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