LUCKNOW: With stage all set for seven-phase Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP) released the list of its 40 star campaigners on Saturday. The list, which includes the names of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party national president Amit Shah, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari, is silent on party patriarch LK Advani, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Varun Gandhi and Vinay Katiyar.
It is for the first time since the formation of the BJP in 1980 that Advani and Joshi will not be campaigning for the party in any election. The two veteran leaders are now the part of party’s ‘margdarshak mandal’ but the absence of the name of Varun Gandhi, who has been one of the most prominent campaigners of the party in earlier elections, is a surprising development.
In fact, Varun Gandhi, party MP from Sultanpur, was conspicuous by his absence in party’s parivartan yatras across the state. “Now not figuring in the list of party campaigners is an indication of the increasing distance between the party and the young leader,” says a senior party functionary. On the other, Mahant Yogi Aditya Nath, who was reportedly sulking for not being a part of party’s UP election committee, has found a place among the star campaigners. Interestingly, the list has the name of former leader of opposition in UP Assembly and senior BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, who switched sides from BSP to the BJP in the recent past.
As per the reports, Maurya, was also not happy with the way tickets were distributed for the first two phases. However, some other turncoats as prominent as former UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, former Rajya Sabha members from the BSP Brijesh Pathak and Jugul Kishore are also not in the list. What is more, this time Muzaffarnagar riot accused Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som will also not campaign for the party. “Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana will be too pre-occupied with their own elections as both are party candidates from Sardhana and Thana Bhawan (Muzaffarnagar), respectively.
So it will be difficult for them to capmign for other seats,” says BJP spokesman Dr Chandramohan. Another senior party functionary feels that Reeta Bahuguna Joshi and Brijesh Pathak could also be fielded by the party, so their names do not figure in campaigners’ list. Moreover, Lucknow Mayor Dr Dinesh Sharma and national secretary Dr Mahendra Singh are also tipped to be party candidates, the names of whom may figure in the next party list.
The list of campaigners, submitted by UP BJP President Keshav Prasad Maurya to the Elelction Commission, also consists of the names from BJP affiliated outfits like national organisation seretary Ramlal, co-organisation secretary Shivprakash, state organisation secretary Sunil Bansal, RS member Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Dr Mahesh Sharma and Prof Ramshanker Katheria, Venkaiah Naidu, Om Prakash Mathur, Smriti Irani Keshav Prasad Maurya, Kalraj Mishra, Uma Bharti, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Piyush Goyal, Sanjiv Balyan, Mahesh Sharma, Hema Malini, General V K Singh, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Santosh Gangwar, Manoj Tiwari, Menka Gandhi among many others. Notably, the party has also roped in LJP leader and senior minister Ram Vilas Paswan to campaign for it but Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel’s name is not there.