Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) chief Rajnath Singh held an Uttar Pradesh-specific strategy meeting in New Delhi, brainstorming on how the party could increase its presence in the state cutting across caste barriers.
The party cleared eight rallies, including one in Lucknow, for Narendra Modi in the coming months across the state.
The BJP cadres who were tuned in to Delhi deliberations said the party had finalised nearly 15 of its top leaders, including some sitting legislators from UP like veteran Kalraj Mishra and Hukum Singh, sadhvi Uma Bharti among those leaders, who would be contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the state.
There were no deliberations on Modi’s possible candidature from UP, sources said.
The Muzaffarnagar riots, the possibility of polarisation after a string of communal clashes and the need for involving more backward castes, were discussed, sources said.
Modi himself is an OBC, the party has emphasised in recent times. Former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh cautioned against getting carried away by the media hype that Modi alone could bring the party back to power.
He said that while the Gujarat chief minister could lead to a 10% vote gain, proper candidate selection and forging a good social coalition were very crucial.
Hukum Singh spoke on the Muzaffarnagar riots, blaming the state administration and its minority appeasement policy for the flare-up. The meet observed a two-minute silence over the riot.
The deliberations in Delhi coincided with the party cadres in Uttar Pradesh celebrating the birthday of Modi. Jubilant cadres sang and danced to ‘NaMo’ tunes in the state capital.
“The urgency that the party has started showing towards shoring up its fortunes in UP is heartening,” said a local leader.
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said the party would aggressively counter efforts by the UP’s ruling Samajwadi Party as well as the Congress-led UPA 2 government at the centre to indulge in appeasement politics. The BJP is also mulling taking on influential UP minister Azam Khan for his ‘maut ka saudagar’ remark “aimed at Modi.”
PARTY DARES GOVT TO ARREST ITS MLAS
The BJP dared the state government to arrest its legislators named in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots.
“Two of the four legislators falsely named in connection with the riots have been in Lucknow to attend the UP assembly session. Let this government arrest them if it has proof,” said UP BJP chief LK Bajpai who was also in Delhi attending the party meet.
Bajpai cited a sting operation conducted by a news channel to slam the UP government and said it exposed the ruling party’s involvement in the riots.
He said the government should go.