Simultaneously, at a parallel meeting, Shah was instructing 30 senior BJP senior leaders including several union ministers on how to win 2019 with immediate steps to increase the voter base of the party. As that happens, expect a rise in communal temperatures as the BJP uses its patented brand of minority-baiting to grow its political base.
While the opposition was delighted at the outcome of the West Bengal civic election where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee swept the civic elections yesterday, winning 140 out of 148 wards, the BJP was a distant second - the gap was uncomfortably large for Shah, who has pledged to intercept Mamata in Bengal, but the six seats the party won would have been unimaginable even two years ago. The Congress drew a blank and the Left Front got a single seat, establishing that the BJP is quickly growing into the main challenger in Bengal.
He told core members of the BJP including eight ministers that they need to focus on new catchment areas for the BJP including 150 new seats across West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka and Kerala. Even Tamil Nadu is on Shah's radar - he wants the BJP to benefit, possibly piggyback, on the merger of the two factions of Jayalalithaa's AIADMK with a high-profile role for superstar Rajinikanth, who has made it clear that he's finally crossing the threshold to become a politician.
The expansion of the BJP in the thus far impenetrable citadel of Tamil Nadu is being personally handled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi - hence the frequent cosy meetings with EPS and OPS, the leaders of the two wings of the AIADMK who appear to be closing the deal for their reconciliation.
In other states especially Kerala and Bengal, the BJP will rely heavily on its tried and tested communal agenda, inciting or exacerbating Hindi-Muslim unrest with pro-BJP media and daily hashtags propagating a carefully-crafted narrative spun by BJP Central.
Shah told the party yesterday that in Bihar, the BJP with allies won 32 of 40 seats in 2014; with Nitish Kumar now appropriated as a partner, the state is safe. Gujarat, despite Shah's declaration of Mission 150 and the effective split in the Congress in still not entirely in the bag, so Modi will make nearly weekly trips till the state votes for its next government.
The big question in this push for new electoral space is how the BJP will reconcile its agenda with popular mood-such as its insistence on Hindi being the national language, widely opposed in the South, or the forcing of a strict anti-beef ban in Kerala, West Bengal and the North East, where beef is an important part of both diet and culinary culture.
So far the party has just tried to finesse the contradictions and dichotomy - but it cannot gloss over the problems indefinitely. A senior Congress leader who asked not to be named, said "Shah keeps talking of a Congress-mukt Bharat, but all that he has done is transform the BJP into a more aggressive and electorally successful Congress." The problem is that the Congress, even now, doesn't see the flaw in its defense, dismissing the success rate and the indefatigable fighting spirit of Modi-Shah as something it could own, if it wanted to. Any day now.
(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.