As the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) reach the slog overs, political leaders from Vadodara have now shifted base to the epicentre of action. While Congress Vadodara candidate Madhusudan Mistry is heading the party’s election activity as the UP in-charge, about two dozen BJP leaders from Vadodara and the state are headed to various Parliamentary constituencies in UP to campaign for the party, especially Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
With the election battle in Vadodara coming to an end on April 30, leaders have now begun moving to pitch for their parties in the last days of the UP campaign. About 25 BJP leaders from the state are heading to UP in batches to contribute to the campaigning ahead of the fast approaching polling date.
Among those who are already in UP are Modi’s Vadodara election agent and city party president Bharat Dangar, the Panchmahals in-charge, Shabdasharan Brahmabhatt, Mayor Bharat Shah and MLA Yogesh Patel. On Monday, incumbent MP Balkrishna Shukla and other local leaders will leave for UP. Leaders are tight-lipped about their “role” in the UP campaign, but they anonymously say they have been asked to “replicate” the booth-wise voter mobilisation model in UP to ensure an easy win for the party.
A party leader says, “There are top Gujarat leaders who are being handed over the responsibility of seat-wise constituencies in UP. They are expected to oversee the micro-level booth management, along with local leaders as the system has been very organised in Gujarat. Modiji has requested the Gujarat leaders to pitch in with the booth-level management as it has brought much better voting percentages this time in the state.”
Leaders say that since the dialect is different in UP, leaders from Gujarat will not actively undertake “door-to-door” campaigns. However, they will interact with people in nukkad meetings. The concentration of Gujarat leaders is interestingly centered in seats around Varanasi from where Modi is contesting. These include Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Mau, Chandauli, Mirzapur and Ghazipur, among others.
Dangar told The Indian Express, “We are here to boost the momentum of the campaign after an upbeat performance in Vadodara. We will help the local leaders push the campaign in the last days so that voters reach the polling stations. Many leaders from the state, including Surat and Valsad, will be reaching here by Tuesday.”
Incumbent MP Shukla says he is planning to take the road to Mau, 140 kms from Varanasi, where he will interact with voters for the party, in consultation with the local BJP leaders. The reason for choosing the over 1,700 kms road to Mau is “unavailability of tickets”. Shukla says, “I might reach on Wednesday as the road will be a longer journey. I am planning to do so because there is a crunch of return tickets for May 10 and we have to be back here in time for counting days.”
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BJP MLA from Manjalpur, Yogesh Patel, however, is in UP for the second time this elections to campaign for Maneka Gandhi’s son Varun in Sultanpur. On his previous two-week tour in April, Patel had actively scoured the Pilibhit constituency for “Manekaben” and now it is time to prepare the ground for Varun’s victory, he says. Patel, who was in the middle of a Varun-Maneka joint rally in Sultanpur on Sunday evening, said, “I am concentrating on Sultanpur. I might also visit Varanasi for Modiji on the last day (May 10). The response from people is overwhelming.”
A group of about 25 members of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, led by Ghani Qureshi from Vadodara, is also campaigning for Modi in Varanasi this week. On the other hand, Modi’s rival contestant in Vadodara, Mistry is currently stationed in Lucknow. He left Vadodara immediately after the polling day to take charge of the situation there.
A Congress leader in Vadodara says, “Mistryji has the responsibility of UP on his shoulders and contesting from Vadodara has meant division of his concentration and time. He has rushed back to ensure things are in order in UP as it is a challenge to be the state in-charge.” Mistry said, “I have arrived here to oversee the campaigning in the state as we have reached the crucial stage here.”