Locked in a close contest in Gujarat, BJP is strengthening its booth management structure to counter caste alignments in the Assembly elections .
With community leaders like Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani raking up caste issues in the polls, the BJP is focusing on booth management without getting into polarisation on lines of caste and religion.
Party will deploy at least 30 dedicated workers on each booth in order to bring maximum voters to polling booths. Till now, the BJP’s formula was 10-15 workers on a booth. BJP’s poll managers said the idea is to add another 10 per cent of votes to its fold in order to achieve mission 150.
With strong presence of workers on each booth, the BJP wants to ensure that one worker only looks after 25 to 30 voters. This will make it easier for booth workers to identify the BJP supporters and bring them to polling booths.
A BJP leader looking after poll preparations in Gujarat said more than a dozen cabinet ministers and central BJP leaders are also camping in the state micro-manage the elections.
He said the margin of votes between BJP and Congress has remained constant at around 10 per cent during the last five assembly polls and the party would be working hard to increase the margin.
The Congress on the other hand has been banking on Dalit, OBC and rural votes to win over these 10 per cent votes.
The rise of caste-based leaders like Patel, Thakor and Mewani has added to BJP’s worries. Thakor, who emerged as the face of Gujarat’s OBCs-about 40 per cent of the state’s population-with his protest against liquor addiction, has already joined Congress.
Thakors represent about 20-22 per cent of the state’s population. Patidar leader Hardik Patel has also announced support to the Congress. Thakors, Dalits and Patels together make up 40per cent of the state’s population.
Patidars, a traditionally BJP-supporting community that comprises 12 per cent of the state’s 6 crore population and hold influence in at least 60 of the 182 seats, have been agitating for reservation under OBC quota.
Party leader said with these forces, the Congress was trying to polarise the voters along caste and religion like it did in 1980 by stitching together a coalition- called KHAM for Kshatriya, Harijan (Dalits), Adivasi (Tribals) and Muslims.
This had brought together nearly 40 per cent of the state’s population and brought former CM Madhavsinh Solanki to power with a record 141 seats in a 182-member assembly.