The Vistaraks have been tasked with breaching the vote bank that the Congress has guarded for decades, an insider said.

With eye on 2018 polls Karnataka BJP dispatches over 3500 Vistaraks to woo minority votersWikimedia Commons / Al Jazeera English
news Politics Monday, July 03, 2017 - 15:45

Well ahead of next year’s elections, the BJP has kicked off its plans for cutting into the traditional voter base of the Congress. Recently, the party’s state President, BS Yeddyurappa, had visited the homes of Dalit and Adivasi voters in the state.

Now, the saffron party is gearing up to woo the minorities and is planning to implement the Uttar Pradesh poll strategy, said a person close to the BJP – with knowledge about the campaign.

The party’s minority wing has kicked off its ‘Vistarak’ programme, with over 3,500 volunteers campaigning across Karnataka, from Monday onwards, in areas with a dominant minority presence.

“Constituencies with a large population from minority communities have been identified and these Vistaraks will campaign in every such constituency. They will go to each and every home of members of the minority community to talk about the BJP and also the Modi government,” the insider added.

According to Abdul Azeem, state President of the BJP’s Minority Morcha, minority leaders from within the will also participate in the campaign apart from the Vistaraks.

Each Vistarak will have to reach out to 25 households every day and interact with locals belonging to the minority community, he said.

“Volunteers have been told to target the youth. In addition, other demographics like doctors, lawyers and daily wage labourers are also going to be targeted for the campaign. The Vistaraks will be tasked with breaching the vote bank that the Congress party has guarded for decades. Vistaraks will highlight the welfare schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and try to change the mindset of those belonging to the minority communities about the BJP being a secular party,” the insider added.

According to Abdul Azeem, the BJP has been working towards drawing minority votes for the last two years. “So far, we have over 25,000 people from minority communities enrolled with the BJP. This is not nearly enough. With the Vistaraks all set to campaign, we are targeting 1,000 families in each of the 224 Assembly constituencies by the end of December,” Azeez added.

In addition, the party is forming six special teams of fifteen members each, which will conduct panchayat-level campaigns to supplement the Vistarak’s door to door campaigns, he added.

These will be headed by BJP Minority Morcha leaders – Abdul Azeem in the Narasimha Raja constituency of Mysuru, Rahim Uchil in Southern Dharwad, Mukhtar Pathan in Northern Kalaburagi, Rashmi D’Souza in South Bengaluru, Shantaram Kennedy in Northern Davangere and Tipu Sultan in Hadagali.

“Each minority leader has been assigned to the said constituency after careful planning. The heads of these teams have been assigned strategies, specific to the region, to adhere to in order to break through Congress strongholds,” the source said.

In June, the BJP had reportedly put together over 10,000 WhatsApp groups targeting voters of various demographic groups across the state.

“There are different WhatsApp groups for different demographic groups. The youth in Bengaluru may not connect with the same things that the youth from rural Karnataka do and based on these differences, over 10,000 groups have been formed to target people from various demographics. But mostly, the BJP wants the youth vote this time,” the insider added.

Apart from the WhatsApp groups, the BJP will also start websites, as well as introducing a BSY app, which will be used for targeted campaigning.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons / Al Jazeera English