- BJP chief meets with 31 party leaders in Delhi for 2019 strategy
- Focus on fighting anti-incumbency, converting seats we lost earlier: Shah
- BJP places distant second in Bengal civic polls, Mamata Banerjee wins big
His instructions to expand the BJP's diet were issued as news came in from Bengal of Mamata Banerjee's victory of giant proportions in local elections in Bengal. Ms Banerjee, who is among the most persistent and vocal critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, won all seven civic bodies that were decided today; the BJP's solace lies in the fact that it has shoved the Left aside as the runner up, though a very distant one.
"I think we will do very well in Bengal," said Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in charge of the state, in an interview to NDTV.
Mr Shah has toured Bengal and other states like Gujarat and Karnataka exhaustively over the last few months to gauge how best to position the BJP in upcoming elections. "He first shared his insights from his trips so far," said a leader present at the meeting. In Lok Sabha polls, the BJP chief has identified 150 seats that the party lost last time as must-haves in its effort to replace the Congress in governing the southern state.
Ministers like Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad, JP Nadda and others attended the brain-storming session, where the results of surveys on the BJP's performance and voter perception in Bengal, Kerala and Odisha were presented. Special attention was paid to how to fight anti-incumbency in states where the BJP has been in power for several terms.
"He is very clear on what is our strength and weakness and so he talked about those key areas," said another leader who asked not to be named.
Mr Shah's class was held as opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi met in Delhi today to discuss how to take on PM Modi in 2019. An anti-BJP front of 18 parties that was formed in April was whacked considerably last month with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar vaulting away from it to run his new government in Bihar in partnership with the BJP.