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Youth, Muslims, sect leaders hold Delhi key for BJP

Determined to win Delhi hands down, and not just touch the magic figure of 36 in the 70-member assembly, the BJP has identified three target groups in the city - youth, Muslims and sect leaders - and is going all out to woo them with public meetings and membership drives.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party in the Dec 2013 polls, winning 31 seats along with the support of a lone Akal Dal candidate. However, it failed to form a government as it needed four more seats for a simple majority.

Not in a mood to take any chances this time round, the party is seeking support from religious and spiritual gurus who have thousands of followers in the city while at the same time it is personally approaching the city's youth and Muslims hoping to influence their opinions.

According to a senior party leader, a section of the BJP's support base had drifted towards the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the last assembly elections. However, with Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister coupled with the AAP's 49-day rule in Delhi, many of these people have now returned to the BJP fold, claimed a leader in the know of things.

"If elections are held today, our prospects are bright. However, we won't be satiated with touching the 36 seats mark and the central leadership in particular wants to win Delhi comprehensively and that is possible only when we create a new support base," the leader said not wishing to be identified.

"This is why we need to focus on these new target groups," he added. Taking a cue from its Haryana victory, part of which is credited to the support that the party received from Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim, the head of Dera Sacha Sauda which has a huge following in the state, a team of central leaders is in talks with religious and spiritual leaders who have their deras in Delhi and have the power to influence voters.

"We already have the support of (yoga guru) Baba Ramdev and we are hoping that the religious heads will give us their blessings to a leader (Modi) who has no hesitation in calling himself a proud Hindu," said the leader, refusing to give out any names.

As far as the Muslim votes are concerned, the BJP wants to make serious inroads as it feels that the community would turn to the party after the Congress failed to make a mark in the assembly elections. In the December 2013 assembly elections,, the BJP won 31 seats, while AAP bagged 28 seats and formed the government with the backing of the Congress, whose tally was reduced from 43 to 8.

To improve its image among the minorities, the BJP has begun a series of public debates.

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