Stepping up its preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP on Wednesday appointed leaders in charge for the party’s electioneering in 17 states. Party president Amit Shah appointed his trustworthy and experienced hands for the key states in which the BJP is fighting a fierce battle to retain dominance.
Shah assigned former Gujarat minister Gordhan Zadaphia, Dalit leader and BJP vice-president Dushyant Gautam and former Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra to Uttar Pradesh. The BJP, which had won 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP in 2014, is facing a tough challenge from the Samajawadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which are likely to forge an alliance.
The decision to appoint Zadaphia in-charge of a crucial state like Uttar Pradesh, though, has surprised many in the party. Zadaphia was minister of state for home in the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat cabinet during 2001-02 period and was dropped from the ministry later. He was accused of involvement in the riots. Zadaphia, who was a known anti-Modi leader in Gujarat BJP, later formed a party, only to return to the saffron party just before 2014 General Election.
Party chief relies on trusted leaders
Despite the party’s debacle in three Hindi heartland states, BJP chief Amit Shah seems to be relying on his trusted leaders to make the party battle-ready for the Lok Sabha polls next year. Shah has also picked leaders who have been lying low, such as O P Mathur. His list indicates that Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who obviously has approved it, count on experienced hands to see that the BJP is back in power at the Centre.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar and party secretary and national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, who handled the BJP’s election work in the just-concluded Assembly polls, will continue to take care of the party’s affairs for the Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan.
BJP secretary Bhupender Yadav, considered to be enjoying the confidence of Shah, has been retained as Bihar in-charge. After facing a humiliating defeat in the state elections in 2015, the party has upped its stake, with estranged ally JD(U) brought back into the NDA. The BJP has announced both leading NDA constituents in Bihar will contest 17 seats each in 2019 polls, with another ally, the LJP, expected to field candidates in six constituencies. The party had won 12 of the 38 seats from Bihar in 2014.
Om Prakash Mathur, who was the party’s UP in-charge, will go to Gujarat. Mathur had worked as the state in-charge with Modi, when the latter was the chief minister. BJP general secretary Arun Singh will continue to be in charge of Odisha, it was announced.
Swatantra Dev Singh and Satish Upadhyay have been appointed as in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, another state where the party has lost power. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan was in charge of the state ahead of the Assembly polls.
Anil Jain, another general secretary, will continue to oversee party’s preparations in Chhattisgarh. The BJP, after being in power for 15 years, lost power in the state this month. With the party keeping its focus on the Northeast as a region that is expected to compensate for its possible losses in Hindi heartland, party leader Nalin Kohli has been given charge of Manipur and Nagaland.