NEW DELHI: BJP star campaigner and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been conspicuous by his absence from the party's election campaign in Uttar Pradesh. Modi is said to be sulking and upset after his rival Sanjay Joshi was put in-charge of the party in UP.
Modi did not campaign for the party in Punjab or in Uttarakhand, which went to polls on Monday. He will also give the poll campaign a miss in the all important state of Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is pulling all stops to revive itself.
Modi even skipped the last national executive meeting of the BJP after Joshi was made in-charge of Uttar Pradesh elections and has so far has shown no signs of hitting the campaign trail.
Modi has maintained a distance after former UP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, who was sacked following allegation of his involvement in the NRHM scam, was inducted in the party. Other top leaders like LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj too are maintaining a low profile forcing the BJP to rework on its strategy.
In the new scheme of social engineering, the four state OBC leaders would be leading the election campaign. Santosh Gangwaar will tour the Rohilkhand region. Hindu mascot and Kurmi leader Vinay Katiyaar will tour central and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Whereas, Babu Singh Kushwaha is independently working for the party to garner backward Kushwaha votes.
The strategy is to revive the old upper-caste non-Yadav OBC combination as the party did in Bihar.
Those citing the Bihar model say despite Modi not campaigning in the state Assembly Elections, BJP increased its vote share by just 0.4 per cent but almost doubled its seats in absence of any religious polarisation.
For the BJP, the Uttar Pradesh poll results are crucial in its game plan for 2014 Lok Sabha elections in general and its president Nitin Gadkari in particular who completes his three year term this year end. Any extension to Gadkari and the party's revival as a potent threat to the Congress-led UPA at the Centre will depend on how party fares in the state which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.