Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the 36th National Games open in a glittering ceremony in Ahmedabad on Thursday evening in the presence of more than 100,000 ecstatic spectators. Speaking at the ceremony at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera area, Modi called the games one of the biggest unifiers in a “young nation” like India.
The PM’s message is of particular import to the ruling BJP’s election campaign for Gujarat where it is set out to actively woo the young voters for a repeat of the 2017 win. The party says that in the last election, 54 lakh voters cast their ballots for the first time in the state, a sizeable number.
Speaking to News18, a senior BJP leader said the games are a big part of the strategy to woo these young voters. “Players across states showing sportsman spirit and competing to establish themselves as the best will be touring the state, experiencing the Gujarat’s vibrant culture and traditions. It is with immense pleasure that the state is hosting people from across the country," said the leader.
“This is the generation that hasn’t seen the riot-prone state. We believe that this generation has no feeling of angst and their families too must have known the days when peace was rare. We have drawn an elaborate plan to ensure these voters remain with the party,” the leader added.
The party believes the feeling of nationalism and pride in Gujarati culture will strike a chord with youngsters. “Who would have thought that a country that didn’t seek badla for the 26/11 attacks would seek retribution for the killing of our soldiers. This sentiment has drawn the youth to us," said the leader.
Sources say the message of hope to the youth is loud and clear with India being seen and heard on the world stage.
To reach the youth directly, the party is planning programs in universities, with around 40 such events already lined up where central ministers will be roped in to talk about Modi’s 20 years in public service and governance. The party has set a target of conducting 100 such programs. Besides, the party’s Yuva Morcha will also undertake events for one-on-one connect wherein around 1 lakh volunteers will touch base with 54 lakh first-time voters of 2017.
The BJP is also actively recruiting volunteers for the job. For its social media campaign, it is looking to rope in 50,000 volunteers, of whom around 27,000 have already been enrolled.
With the AAP campaigning fiercely in the state, the BJP is keeping a close watch on young voters as it is this vote-bank that is believed to have catapulted Arvind Kejriwal’s party to power in Delhi and Punjab.
“These youngsters wanted to put their faith in Kejriwal believing the AAP is a party with a difference but this has been exposed now. We believe the youth of Gujarat are different and trust PM Modi," said the BJP leader quoted earlier.