As late as March 2015, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was considered the largest party with membership strength of 8.6 crores. But Close to the end of March, the Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) overtook the CPC with a party membership of almost 8.8 crores. That’s not all. Within three weeks after that spectacle, the BJP came out with a statistically whopping party membership record of 10 crores. Comparing how BJP and CPC have such a huge membership base is like comparing apples and oranges.
According to the CPC’s 2012 statistics, its 8.5 crore members, representing around 7 per cent of the total Chinese population, increases at an average rate of 10 lakhs each year. Joining the CPC is also not so easy. Most Chinese children (ages 6 to 14) are members of the ‘Young Pioneers of China’. On reaching the age of 14, the members automatically exit the organisation. They are offered the opportunity to join the more important ‘Youth League’. Members of the league have higher prospects of being accepted into the CPC in the future. Taking months to years, acceptance of membership is a time-consuming process and rising up the ranks is even more difficult. The arduous process of the CPC’s party membership is somewhat crudely bypassed in case of BJP’s technologically devised plans for increasing its membership base.
In need of a stronger membership base, the BJP spared no options to achieve the party president – Amit Shah’s goal. By going completely digital, it is now very easy to join the party. By filling an online form and paying Rs. 5 is enough for any citizen to become a party member. Confirmations via mobile phones through messages and toll-free numbers for enrolments have also been put into practice. With local party members also pitching in a little effort with publicity drives, the swelling of party membership numbers is not a big surprise. BJP has also said that it will not consider the enrolments of citizens with any criminal records. This is practically the only scrutiny in the whole enrolment process.
The Indian National Congress (INC) and other sceptics of the BJP’s enrolment drive point out that membership confirmation messages were even sent to major members of other political parties and that it was also possible to use a single individual’s multiple mobile phone numbers to increase membership numbers. What is interesting here is the fact that the INC is also planning to start its own membership drive via an app with detailed verification before membership acceptance.