With the formal sounding of the poll bugle, following the EC’s announcement of the dates for the Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday, the main Opposition BJP has begun to take stock of its battle preparedness.
From fine-tuning the election management at the booth- level to the selection of candidates, the BJP’s action plan for the 2014 elections has already got under way. To begin with, the saffron party has decided that some of its key leaders, who were earlier slated to contest the Lok Sabha elections, will now be exempted from the rough and tumble of garnering votes; they would rather help in election management.
The key names, who will not be in the running for the LS polls, are former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley; Rajya Sabha MPs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi; Dharmendra Pradhan and Thawarchand Gehlot. Sources said a decision regarding this was taken this week and they would be asked to help in the party’s campaign management across the country.
However, the BJP is likely to ask some of its new entrants to contest the elections. Some of the prominent new recruits likely to get the nod, include Dalit leader Udit Raj and former Army chief V K Singh. Raj is expected to be fielded from UP as part of the BJP strategy to challenge the BSP’s assured vote bank in the politically crucial state.
Among the old guard senior leaders with the exception of Jaswant Singh, who may now shift to Rajasthan from his current Darjeeling seat, are likely to contest from their sitting seats. Sources said L K Advani and M M Joshi will contest from their sitting seats-- Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Varanasi in UP respectively.
With just a month left for the first votes to be cast on April 7, when the first phase of the LS polls will commence, from Saturday onwards the BJP is likely to declare the names of over 400 candidates. “Last time( in 2009), we contested 433 seats, this time also we would better that record,” a senior BJP leader said.