It was the story of a man who performed a nine-day puja or religious ritual, sat diligently for the priest's sermons and worked hard. "After persevering for nine days, he invited all the villagers to a feast. They all ate and left," said PM Modi, wrapping up the fable.
The unspoken punchline was that the PM cannot be doing all the hard work while the rest enjoy the meal and leave. "Everyone has to work hard and connect with the masses," said a BJP leader, sharing PM Modi's comments.
The lawmakers were told that with the opposition targeting the government's last full budget before multiple elections, it was up to them to spread the good word and defend schemes for farmers and the middle class.
The BJP has a majority in the Lok Sabha, with 274 MPs on its own. In 2014, its massive victory was credited to a "Modi wave". Since then, the party has attributed a number of state poll wins to "Modi Magic". This year, it is preparing for eight state elections before the national polls due next year.
The Prime Minister's nudge signals the BJP's assessment that resentment among BJP workers and their disconnect with the top leadership has cost the party in states like Gujarat and Rajasthan.
In Gujarat, the BJP fought a tough battle and could not win more than 100 seats in the 182-member assembly. In by-polls in Rajasthan recently, the party lost three seats - two Lok Sabha and one assembly.
Advising lawmakers to reconnect with party workers, the PM suggested "tiffin parties" aka "lunch pe charcha" - the third in the "charcha" series after "chai pe charcha" and "Pariksha pe charcha".
Mr Modi, say sources, asked lawmakers to visit every assembly segment in their parliamentary constituency with their own tiffin and share a meal with workers. He had done the same when he addressed a rally in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi in UP last year.
At the meeting, MPs were also given a booklet on PM Modi titled "Unbeatable Global Legend", which compiles articles published in around 25 global newspapers on the Prime Minister's speech at the recent Davos summit. The booklet was reportedly prepared by party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.