Local workers

In addition to technology, the BJP also relied on the good old word-of-mouth strategy to ratchet up the numbers. The party trained thousands of its workers across different states to reach more people, especially the uneducated, and get them on board as party members.

“These workers will go to the villages, railway platforms, bus stands and other crowded places, informing people about the BJP’s ideology,” Arun Singh, a BJP member told India Today.

Once the registrations were complete, the party would send the details to the local office for verification. “If the feedback is that the person has a criminal record, the registration will be rejected,” JP Nadda, general secretary of the party had said at the launch of the initiative.

What’s the catch?

The Congress has come out strongly against the numbers. It claim that the numbers are fudged and that some of its own leaders also received text messages thanking them for joining the BJP.

“If it were not tragic for democracy, it would be comic.” Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a spokesperson for the party said. “If by pressing a button you can get one crore membership in one week, you can imagine the commitment to ideology, the commitment to a party, the involvement, participation, connection and closeness.”

The BJP also faced flak when a local school in New Delhi reportedly asked its teachers and students to also register for the party. The Delhi government under Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party had immediately sought a report from the school following the decision.

“I would take these numbers with a pinch of salt,” Sanjay Kumar, director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, told Quartz.

“Traditionally, there have been times when people want to be associated with the ruling party. And the BJP has increased its membership base over the past few years. But the unprecedented rise over the past few months raises doubts over the numbers.”

For Modi though, who plans to stay in power till 2024, the huge surge in membership is only likely to strengthen his grip over the Indian electorate.

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