Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to announce on Saturday a new slogan against poverty to take on the iconic “Garibi Hatao” coined by the Congress’ Indira Gandhi.
He will be addressing party workers in Kerala’s Kozhikode, where the BJP’s national council, made up of top leaders, will meet on Sunday.
As the BJP prepares for crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, top leaders believe the party can position itself to lead the battle against poverty, a space occupied for many years by the Congress since former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi gave it the “Garibi Hatao” or end poverty slogan in the 1970s.
The Congress, the BJP believes, has long vacated that space and PM Modi wants to occupy it.
The Modi government made a strategic shift earlier this year aligning key policies with the core goal of fighting poverty, as it sought to reject the tag of anti-poor, pro-corporate pinned to it by the Congress-led opposition.
The new anti-poverty campaign will be built around Deen Dayal Upadhyay, a former president of the Jan Sangh, from which the BJP was born. The government has named several schemes for the poor after Deen Dayal Upadhyay as the BJP celebrates his centenary.
Kozhikode, once known as Calicut, was picked as the venue for the conclave because Deen Dayal Upadhyay was elected Jan Sangh president there in December 1967. He died 41 days after the election.
It also acknowledges the BJP’s debut in the Kerala assembly elections earlier this year. The party won a seat for the first time ever as it attempts to expand its presence to places where it has traditionally been politically weak.
The BJP has created a air-conditioned township with halls, lounges and exhibition areas in a park in the heart of Kozhikode for the conclave and has called it the Deen Dayal Updhayay Nagri.
Kozhikode’s roads are lined with big cutouts of BJP leaders. The party’s central ministers, its chief ministers and top leaders will attend the conclave.
BJP chief Amit Shah arrived today to a traditional Kerala welcome. A panchvadyam (five instrument) orchestra played at the venue instead of the usual public address system blaring BJP theme songs.