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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

With Joshi out, Modi’s focus shifts to Gujarat polls

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 09, 2012
First Published: 22:42 IST(9/6/2012) | Last Updated: 09:22 IST(10/6/2012)

With his rival Sanjay Joshi out of the BJP, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi's focus will now be on winning the state assembly polls in December, with a tally that is more impressive than the last time.

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Modi wants the BJP to win not less than 150 of the 189 seats in the Gujarat assembly, party leaders said. In the polls held in 2007, the BJP won 127 seats.

Unlike the last time, when 30% of sitting MLAs were dropped, Modi is likely to prefer a "careful" approach, BJP officials said. He would not want the dropped MLAs to join his detractors or the Congress, which is waiting to see what Modi does, they added.

Till the assembly polls are over, Modi will also not be involved in any central BJP activities as he wants to focus on micro-management of all constituencies — right from the selection of candidates to segment-wise targeting of voters.

"It won't send a right message to voters if he leaves Gujarat till the polls are over," said a state BJP functionary.

But, once the polls are over, Modi is certain to take up a national role. One indication is that he could be made head of the BJP's national campaign committee for a pan-India approach, with other leaders such as Arun Jaitley also in the limelight.

Right now, Modi does not wish to leave out any linguistic or caste groups -- he had two conferences organised to woo voters from Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, who are living in south Gujarat, particularly Surat. Modi has already undertaken intensive tours to mark his signature schemes.

Joshi's exit came before Gujarat BJP executive body began its conclave in Rajkot on Saturday so that his detractors such as former CM Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta and Kanishiram Rana pipe down.


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