The youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will launch a ‘pehla vote Modi ko’ — first vote to Modi. By making special mention of those born in the 21st century who will henceforth be eligible to vote, PM Modi has smartly attempted to woo a new category of the electorate who will be tracked for their voting behaviour in the run-up to the 2019 elections. In his last ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of 2017, Modi remarked that the first day of 2018 is “special” because “those born in the 21st century will gradually become eligible voters”.
Modi spoke about such voters in his Independence Day speech in 2017 too. He had referred to them as “creators of the destiny of our nation in the 21st century”. Recently, while addressing party leaders after victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Modi reminded them of reaching out to the group in an effort to strengthen the party ahead of 2019 elections.
It’s one of the 14 programmes the BJP leadership has assigned to the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), led by Mumbai North-Central MP Poonam Mahajan, to organise in the run-up to the summer elections with the objective of drawing the maximum support of young voters, using Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the mascot.
The campaign is expected to start after the BJP’s national council meeting in New Delhi on January 11 and 12, and will aim at reaching the young who will vote for the first time in the elections.
Every year about 20 million people turn 18 — and thus become eligible to vote — in India. About 30 million Indians were aged 10 in 2011 and will be eligible to register as voters in the 2019 elections. The Election Commission will publish the final electoral rolls on January 21.
“The ‘pehla vote Modi ko’ campaign is about making young voters take a pledge that their first vote will go to Prime Minister Modi,” Mahajan said. “Over the next few months, the party will reach out to these first-time voters and even those young electors who voted for us in the last election.”
Another BJP office bearer, one of the two cited in the first instance, said, “We plan to conduct events in colleges and university campuses to tap young voters and make them take a pledge about ‘first vote to Modi’. They can post their pledge on social networking sites, which will also encourage others to take a similar pledge.”
This BJP leader, who requested anonymity, claimed that the BJYM will also put up kiosks at important locations in the city to draw young people into taking this pledge.
A youth icon network will also be set up to draw up a list of individual influencers in each state to engage with young people. The BJYM is targeting 1,000-plus influencers across the country, and will identify at least one in each district.
“These influencers, through different programmes, will reach out to 1000-plus people,” the second leader said, also on condition of anonymity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with these influencers at a town hall programme in the run-up to the campaign.