The total number of BJP members has reached near 18 crore, its highest ever, with the party set to add seven crore new entrants during its recent membership drive, its working president J P Nadda said on Thursday. He said the drive, launched on July 6 and concluded on August 20, was "successful" and triumphantly noted that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now had more members than the population of most countries.
Only seven countries had more people than the total number of BJP members, Nadda told a press conference here. The saffron party had set a target of adding 2.2 crore new members to its 11-crore membership reached in 2015, but surpassed the figure across the country, he said.
Nadda said the party made 5,81,34,242 new members online and 62,34,967 offline, adding that the details of more membership were being collated. When the process is over, it will reach seven crore, he said.
Top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, had launched the drive from Varanasi, Telangana, Jaipur and Nagpur respectively on July 6, the birth anniversary of party ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee. With the membership drive over, the party will start its organisational polls in September.
The elections of national council members will take place in December, followed by the election of the party's national president. As Shah is the Union home minister now, there is a view within the BJP that he may make way for a new party chief.
Nadda is seen as the likely choice for the top post, but he steered clear of the issue at the press conference, saying it will only be known during the organisational polls that who is chosen for the job. The BJP working president said as many 1.86 lakh "vistarak", a term used for those deployed to spearhead a drive at the local level, steered the membership campaign for a week across the country.
He mentioned West Bengal as among the states where the drive drew a "massive" response, saying the party had already made 80 lakh members there as against the target of 10 lakh. "We will make one crore members in West Bengal. A primary reason for this is people's disenchantment with the state government and they want to get rid of it," Nadda said, targeting the Trinamool Congress (TMC) dispensation headed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
BJP vice president Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who headed the membership drive, claimed that Muslims, who were seen to be generally indifferent to the saffron party, also responded favourably to the campaign. Following Modi's call, Nadda said 19.66 lakh trees were planted during the drive. The prime minister had asked the party members to undertake a green drive during the campaign.
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