The Uttarakhand BJP has asked its central leadership to immediately announce the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the assembly election, cautioning that going to the polls without a face will give the ruling Congress a clear edge in the electoral battle.
State BJP legislature party members made their stand clear on the issue before the party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in a close-door meeting in Dehradun on Monday, according to party insiders.
“He was left in doubt that the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not work in the poll-bound state as happened in the Bihar election,” a BJP legislature party member told Hindustan Times.
Vijayvargiya is here on a three-day visit and would leave for Delhi on Wednesday. On Monday, soon after his arrival he had a series of meetings with the leaders of BJP’s all frontal organisations, its office-bearers as well as the members of the legislature party. Vijayvargiya also had a meeting with the state unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
Sources said Vijayvargiya had been especially deputed by the high command to bring together all the factions of the BJP ahead of the polls. The Centre has been avoiding naming the party’s face for the assembly election as it fears that such a move might end up fuelling the infighting within its state unit as half-a-dozen of its leaders are vying for the key position. Some of them are 10 former Congress legislators who joined the BJP in the wake of the political crisis earlier this year.
Sources said the high command though is banking on the ‘Modi magic’, which, it feels, would help the party return to power riding on his increasing popularity post the army’s surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads along the Line of Control.
“That is what Vijayvargiya tried to convince the party workers about, but they immediately rejected his idea of the BJP facing the assembly election without a chief ministerial candidate,” an insider said. “He was told that such a move wouldn’t work as the rival Congress’ face for the polls is going to be chief minister Harish Rawat whose popularity is on the rise.”
State BJP president Ajay Bhatt neither denied nor confirmed the reports. “Some party men may have raised the issue of the party’s chief ministerial candidate….But I have no idea as I reached the meeting late,” said Bhatt.
He, however, said that taking a call on whether the party should announce its face for the assembly elections was the sole prerogative of the BJP’s Parliamentary Board.
BJP insiders said that most of party legislators suggested the names of former chief ministers BC Khanduri and Bhagat Singh Koshiyari for the party’s possible face for the polls. Some of them also named former CM Ramesh Pokhariyal for the post.
Former state BJP vice president DS Rawat admitted that the state party leaders made a suggestion in favour of projecting its face for the assembly election.