BJP On Photo-Op Overdrive

Raman Swamy

It isn’t just Amit Shah who is on a frenzied Sampark drive.  Everybody who is anybody in the BJP has evidently been instructed to “Make Contact and Seek Support” from anybody who is somebody.

The word has gone around that it doesn’t matter if you get a warm reception or a tongue-lashing. Just go and meet as many prominent citizens as you can. Just make sure that you take a photographer along or at least someone with a decent smart-phone. Don’t forget to post it on social media and, if possible, send a press release to local news outlets.

Sure enough, visual evidence of the success of the Sampark drive is creating a glut on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. The BJP’s new offices in New Delhi are being inundated with a flood of me-too claims from BJP leaders big and small from almost every State in the country.  

Inevitably, not all the personal contact interactions are successful – or even pleasant. The BJP president himself has had a rebuff or two -  Uddhav Tackeray and Baba Ramdev being the most publicized.  

Union Minister Vijay Goel got an earful from the Shahi Imam of Delhi Jama Masjid when he called on him - Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari reportedly told him: “Muslims are targeted and abused. With what sincerity have you come to me to support your party?”

Vijay Tendulkar of the Goa BJP is keeping his fingers crossed that when he calls on Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao he will get a less acidic reception.

Nitin Gadkari was on firmer ground -  his Sampark with Salman Khan and Salim Khan went off as well as expected. 

In Kolkata, Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary, visited the residence of retired Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha in the middle of the afternoon but the war veteran did not seem to mind having his siesta disturbed. Next on Sinha’s list is former police commissioner Dinesh Vajpayee, who is said to be a Modi sympathetic in any case.

Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s task was riskier – he called on Sirajuddin Qureshi, the head of the India Islamic Cultural Centre and was received with full courtesy.

Meanwhile, Manoj Tiwari the chief of BJP’s Delhi unit made contact with ex-DG of the National Investigation Agency Sharad Kumar and the former Planning Commission member PK Malhotra. Both seemed willing to allow selfies. 

Nirmala Sitharaman was in Chennai where she had a long list of personalities to make sampark with -  Manoj Sonthalia of New Indian Express, Prathap C Reddy of Apollo Hospitals, R. Dinesh of TVS, musician Illayaraja, and Balasubramaniam Adithyan of Thanthi Group. Predictably, none of them had any objection to get a personal visit from India’s Defence Minister.

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal however decided to be different -  his much-publicsed Sampark for Samarthan was with autorickshaw drivers on the streets of Guwahati.

Jun 16, 2018

Raman Swamy [email protected]

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