NEW DELHI: In a series of crucial appointments ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP on Wednesday appointed election incharges for 17 states and notably assigned Gordhan Zadafia -- who was the Gujarat Home Minister during the 2002 riots -- the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the lower House of Parliament.
Sixty-four-year-old Zadafia, who takes the place of BJP President Amit Shah, who was incharge before 2014 elections, will be assisted by party's national Vice President Dushyant Gautam and former Madhya Pradesh Minister Narottam Mishra.
In 2014, then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh had appointed Amit Shah as party's election incharge in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP won 71 out of the 80 seats, more than UPA's overall tally and much more than the previous peak of 57 seats in the 1998 elections.
Zadafia had left the BJP in 2007 complaining against the "autocratic" attitude of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He joined forces with Keshubhai Patel in 2012 and formed Gujarat Parivartan Party which failed to make a mark in the elections.
He later returned to the BJP and worked for the party in 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat.
Uttar Pradesh, a crucial state for the BJP, may see a tough contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are all set to have an alliance.
Shah has appointed former Kerala unit President V. Muralidharan as incharge of Andhra Pradesh, while Sunil Deodhar, credited for the party's landslide victory in Tripura, will assist him as the co-incharge.
Mahendra Singh, a Minister in the Uttar Pradesh's Yogi government has been appointed election incharge of Assam. Singh was BJP's Assam-in-charge and was given the credit for the party's victory in the 2016 Assembly polls where it ousted the Congress government under Tarun Gogoi.
Bhupendra Yadav will continue to be the incharge of party affairs in Bihar where the BJP recently finalised a seat-sharing formula with the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Senior leader Om Praksh Mathur, a close associate of Modi, will continue as incharge of Gujarat. He was BJP's Gujarat in-charge during Modi's tenure as Chief Minister. A former RSS pracharak, Mathur was subsequently deployed as election in-charge in Maharashtra, where the BJP recorded victory. He was given charge of Uttar Pradesh in October 2014.
Tirath Singh Rawat, a BJP Secretary and former Uttarakhand BJP President, has been appointed as incharge of Himachal Pradesh while Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey has been shifted to Jharkhand. Earlier, he was incharge of Himachal Pradesh.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP was ousted from power after 15 years, Shah has appointed Uttar Pradesh Minister Swantantra Dev Singh as incharge and former Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay as co-incharge.
The party has retained Prakash Javadekar as incharge of Rajasthan where the Congress defeated the saffron party in a closely fought battle. Party spokesperson Sudhandhu Trivedi will assist him as co-incharge.
Party spokesperson Nalin Kohli, who was earlier incharge of Meghalaya, has been given responsibility as election incharge of Manipur and Nagaland.
Party General Secreatray Arun Singh will be in charge of Odisha where the BJP has focussed a lot to oust the ruling Biju Janata Dal from power.
Haryana Minister Captain Abhimanyu has been appointed as incharge of Punjab and Chandigarh.
Nitin Navin, a BJYM leader and an MLA from Bihar, has been appointed as incharge of Sikkim governed by Sikkim Democratic Front, a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Arvind Limbawali, an MLA from Karnataka, has been appointed as incharge of Telangana while Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot has been given responsibility as incharge of Uttarakhand.