Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were part of a meeting last evening of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to discuss the impact of the Covid crisis on the image of the party and its fallout on state polls next year, sources say.
The meeting held in Delhi may result in important decisions on the organisation and the government in an attempt to undo damage before the BJP faces elections next year in states including Uttar Pradesh, the sources have said.
BJP chief JP Nadda, RSS leader Dattatreya Hosbole and Uttar Pradesh's organisational in-charge Sunil Bansal were also in the meeting, which reflects deep worry "at the highest level" of the BJP and the RSS over the impact of the pandemic on public perceptions.
The ruling party is concerned about fierce criticism directed at PM Modi and the government over the deadly second surge of Covid, which caught the country off guard and exposed the ill-preparedness of its health system, with oxygen, medicines, hospitals beds and vaccines falling short.
Uttar Pradesh is among the worst-hit states, where bodies floating in the Ganga became a defining image in the Covid death spiral. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government faced questions on its handling of Covid and whether its figures on testing and cases were transparent.
India's most populous state sends the most number of BJP MPs to parliament and it is critical for the party to retain power in UP. A part of the BJP's nervousness is linked to its recent disappointment in Bengal, where all its resources, top leaders and enviable poll machinery failed to stop Mamata Banerjee's third straight victory.
The BJP, smarting from criticism that its leaders were seen to be MIA at the height of the second surge, has urged its workers to dedicate themselves to serve and visibly so.
In a letter to all BJP-ruled states on the weekend, Mr Nadda said all functions to mark seven years of the Narendra Modi government must be avoided on May 30. "Party workers should dedicate themselves in the service of the society," he wrote, and said people must be thanked for giving the BJP a chance to serve for seven years.
"Standing by children who have lost both parents and providing them every support for their safe future is also our social responsibility...The idea is that all BJP-ruled states launch the programme together when the BJP-led government at the Centre completes seven years," he said in the letter.
The BJP leadership has also asked workers to arrange medicines, hospital beds and oxygen supplies in government hospitals. Mr Nadda's letter reminded BJP workers of the party's motto, 'Seva hi Sangathan' (Service is organisation).