The BJP central leadership’s decision to rope in Amit Shah, a close confidant of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,as party in-charge for Uttar Pradesh,is expected to give a shot in the arm to the saffron party, which has been on a downswing in the politically crucial state.
Shah’s appointment followed the BJP top brass’ realisation that it was imperative to bag as many number of seats as possible in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, if the party were to realise its goal of returning to power after remaining in the political wilderness for a decade. Also, the general view in the BJP was that a well-oiled party machine led by a strong leader was needed to give the much-needed fillip to its political prospects in the state.
Despite his controversial image and alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, Shah fitted the bill since he is an advocate of hardline Hindutva like Modi.
He had also faced criticism over the communal riots of 2002, which broke out in the wake of the Godhra carnage and claimed the lives of several hundred innocent Muslims.
Crucially, the BJP leadership’s decision to assign key posts to firebrand leaders like Uma Bharti and Varun Gandhi, besides former CM Kalyan Singh, who is set to return to the party fold,indicates the party’s return to its core agenda of polarising the voters along the communal lines.
Meanwhile, Modi, who is being talked about as the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, is expected to head the party’s charge in the Hindi belt. And the BJP’s performance in its traditional strongholds in northern India could hold the key to its victory in the 2014 polls, especially in the wake of the electoral drubbing received by the party in Karnataka.