With hardly 20 days left for the assembly polls, Congress is yet to come up with its list of star campaigners even as the BJP has released a ‘heavyweight’ list of over 40 star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party’s national president Amit Shah.
The list of star campaigners submitted by BJP’s national general secretary Arun Singh to the Election Commission on January 24 for poll-bound Uttarakhand also include Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar, Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Uma Bharti and Smriti Irani among others.
It features at least 15 prominent BJP leaders from Uttarakhand like former chief ministers Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. The list also includes three former Congress leaders who are now in the BJP - ex CM Vijay Bahuguna and former cabinet ministers Yashpal Arya and Harak Singh Rawat. The saffron party will also bring two film celebrities – Hema Malini and Manoj Tiwari – both of whom are actors-turned-parliamentarians.
Largely dependent on the Gandhi family for its campaigning, Congress is yet to announce its star campaigners for the February 15 polls.
Mathura Dutt Joshi, state Congress’ chief spokesperson, said the party had drawn up a draft list of around 31 leaders whom it wants to bring to Uttarakhand as its ‘star-campaigners’. “We have sent the list to our central leadership for their consent...some more names may be added (to the list) by them. We hope to release the names soon so that campaigning can start in a big way,” Joshi told HT.
Besides Sonia and Rahul Gandhi – Congress’ national president and vice president respectively – the party’s list is likely to include All India Congress Committee general secretary Ambika Soni (who is also the party’s state in charge), besides politicians Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and Manish Tewari and also leaders from Uttarakhand.
“The BJP is trying to take undue political advantage by bringing its Union ministers to Uttarakhand as it is desperately looking to seize power in the state,” Joshi alleged.
The opposition BJP, however, retorted by alleging that Congress party was “bereft of leadership”. “We have taken a clear lead over the Congress, right from announcing our candidates to our star campaigners. We have many stalwarts so we are utilising them...what does Congress have? They do not have many options (for star campaigners) and their allegation is only a case of sour grapes,” state BJP spokesperson Vinay Goyal told HT.