NEW DELHI: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to celebrate the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in an outreach programme lasting nearly a month.
During a BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked members of both Houses to undertake padyatras (march) in their respective constituencies starting 2 October, the birth anniversary of Gandhi. The programme will continue till 31 October, the birth anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
“PM Narendra Modi talked about an important programme for all Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the Houses regarding ‘Gandhi 150’, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The programme would continue between 2 October and 31 October—a 150-km long padyatra will be undertaken in each Lok Sabha constituency," Pralhad Joshi, minister for parliamentary affairs, told reporters.
In the recently-concluded polls, the BJP had won 303 out of the 542 Lok Sabha seats, and the party wants to hold the march across all the constituencies it won.
To further raise its political and social presence in the 199 constituencies, where the BJP couldn’t win, it has decided to appoint RS MPs per constituency to carry out the march.
“Rajya Sabha MPs will be allotted a constituency and a team of 15-20 members will be formed in each constituency. They will undertake a 15-km padyatra everyday in their constituencies. MPs will organize programmes on Mahatma Gandhi, freedom struggle and carry out tree plantation programmes. There would be a party level committee to implement the programme," said Joshi.
Interestingly, BJP had also alloted one constituency, which the party could not win in the Lok Sabha to every Rajya Sabha MP, after the 2014 polls. The exercise was done to extend the BJP’s electoral and social presence in the states and constituencies where the it lacks electoral strength.