There was nothing casual or random, it seems, when Narendra Modi invoked the legacy of BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his Jammu and Kashmir rally. While the face of every other party veteran and senior leader has disappeared from banners and hoardings across the country, it is only Vajpayee who remains and who the party has decided to reclaim.
The BJP will soon put up the new banners in Lucknow and other parts of UP, the state that claims Vajpayee as his own. With Vajpayee’s portrait only slightly bigger, the banner gives an impression of Modi as his inheritor and a promise to boost development. “Phir tez ho vikas ki raftaar, abki baar Modi sarkaar,” says the banner. And, with Modi fighting from one of the seats in UP, having Vajpayee alongside will not hurt, says one party leader.
“Launched in UP, we plan to put these banners across the country. Like our party, UP still sees Vajpayee as a great leader accepted by every one,” added a senior leader.
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Many senior leaders believe that with Atal and Modi banners being launched to reclaim Vajpayee’s legacy as part of campaign strategy, Modi’s comment in Jammu, “The path shown by Vajpayee — humanity, democracy and Kashmiriyat — we will carry forward,” was no coincidence.
“It seems a fight to claim Vajpayee’s legacy is on,” says another leader referring to NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar recent statement attacking Modi by saying that Vajapyee never asked votes for himself.