Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s role as a lifeline to the party’s Lok Sabha election prospects was starkly visible from the moment his political ambassador and the man in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, set foot here on Wednesday.
The writing on the wall was clear as veteran BJP leaders A B Vajpayee and L K Advani were missing in the publicity material put up in and around the BJP office.
Marking the beginning of the Modi chapter, the Gujarat CM and party chief Rajnath Singh replaced Vajpayee and Advani in all posters and banners. While the former prime minister found marginal space in the publicity content, Advani was completely absent. Interestingly, Advani also found no mention in Shah’s address to the party here.
As Modi’s political publicist and a former minister, Shah made it clear that his party would use all its might in UP, which sends the largest number of representatives to Lok Sabha with 80 seats.
Shah said the BJP would leave no stone unturned to win maximum seats in UP. He told senior leaders that he would not like to see them idling in the party office, demanding that every leader spend at least 20 days in his or her constituency. The exercise would be monitored and reported, he added.
The party decided to observe a one-day jail bharo to protest the UPA’s lack of governance and the failure of the Samajwadi Party government in the State.
Shah arrived in Lucknow to a rousing welcome from the Amausi airport to the party’s State headquarters at Ambedkar Marg, where he met party leaders and select workers. During his informal chats in the afternoon and a formal meeting later with office bearers of the party, Shah made it clear that he would offer everything at his disposal to resurrect the party and spend most of his time in Lucknow, coordinating with district-level functionaries to finalise a roadmap for the next General Elections.
When asked to comment on speculation about Modi contesting from Lucknow, Shah went on the defensive and neither denied nor confirmed the reports. Shah said it was his first visit to UP as a BJP office bearer.