Three years of Modi sarkar: Riding on PM's popularity, BJP is in an expansive mood

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He has had an emphatic win in Uttar Pradesh, successfully weathered all criticism on demonetisation and is today clearly the most popular leader in the country.

The BJP has never had a leader with such a pan-India appeal in the past. Which is the reason why the party has decided at this moment to expand its presence in a way that translates into real electoral gains.
This is easily the first time that the BJP, riding on Modi’s popularity, is in a position to win seats even in states where it’s considered a bit player.

But the PM’s popularity alone cannot explain this shift in political momentum. The back story also lies in the way the BJP has managed to leverage its positive image and reap the wind more effectively. Modi’s imprint on transforming the BJP political machine started with his own 2014 campaign that was run independently of the party set-up, though very much in coordination.

This, in itself, set high standards, which is what necessitated to the appointment of Amit Shah as party president. Both Modi and Shah, being outsiders to the BJP’s own Lutyen’s clique, came with almost no baggage, no bias. There were no favourites or acolytes, which made it possible to pick talent on merit, even if that meant poaching aspirants from other parties where required. While that helped brand BJP as a party with opportunity, it also rendered old cliques and groups meaningless. The big outcome of this churn was excellent, almost flawless government-party coordination.

This has also allowed the Centre stretch the limits of its constitutional influence in states by getting the PM to directly speak with chief secretaries and relevant officials in states on specific projects through the Pragati exercise.

What’s important to understand here is the stress on getting the PM to be able to directly communicate to the extent possible, which in itself buttresses the centrality of PMO in all political and administrative initiatives.

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