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Manish Chandra Pandey, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, September 15, 2013
Modi masks have arrived and Modi chalisas are being penned in Uttar Pradesh. A Modi-fied BJP is pulling out all stops to market Narendra Modi - its current poster boy turned prime minister in waiting in the most populous state through a massive publicity blitzkrieg of a scale never witnessed before.

Innovatively designed and planned hoardings at strategic locations across the state - showcasing Modi and BJP chief Rajnath Singh who played a key role in Modi's rise - would soon be put up.

Cake cuttings are being planned now - Modi turns 63 on Tuesday - and party cadres have been instructed to burst 63 cracker bombs on the D-day. The entire UP BJP top brass would be in Delhi on Modi's birthday (Tuesday) to discuss ways to cash in on what a BJP leader described as 'Modi mania' sweeping the nation.

"Yagnas are being held and the party office in Lucknow has been whitewashed and decked up for the occasion," says BJP spokesman Manoj Mishra. The saffron think tank is busy identifying UP regions and constituencies for rallies by the party's PM-in-waiting to help the party. It's not as if everyone in the party is happy.

A senior BJP leader told HT that while the party cadres are jubilant at the development, "everyone" would do well to remember that, "by anointing Modi, the party may have handed scam-hit Congress a golden chance to recover ground it was otherwise losing badly.

Polarisation may be helping us, but it would now help the Congress too. Pro-Modi votes are going to come our way but what about anti-Modi fallout?" But as of now amid cracker bursts and cacophonous celebrations that greeted the announcement of Modi's PM-in-waiting elevation, such voices are getting drowned in the din.

"The cadres have already started seeking Modi function at various places across the state, especially in their areas. That's because they know that the people want to hear him much in the same way as they once wanted to hear Atalji," says a party insider.

The UP BJP bosses who have already made a formal request to Modi to consider contesting the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from UP have also suddenly got vastu-conscious.

The state chief Laxmikant Bajpai's office has already been relocated at a vastu-friendly direction and some party office bearers are already consulting astrologers to check their political prospects in a Modi-inspired era.

"It's true that Modiji has infused fresh life into the party. After his anointment as the PM-in-waiting, it's but natural to expect that he would concentrate on UP and Bihar which together have 120 Lok Sabha seats and maximum potential to up the BJP's tally. So we would leave no stone unturned to make it a success," says a BJP leader who has only recently met Modi in Delhi. The state BJP plans to accord a hero's welcome to Modi whenever he arrives.