Cranking up its poll machine in Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has brought in 22 of its top ministers at the Centre to take charge of the campaign, which has fallen into disarray under a divided state unit.
With just eight days of campaigning left for the February 7 elections, the central leadership wants to quell dissenting voices, restore order and ensure rallies and roadshows are well attended.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley -- who is preparing for the NDA government’s first full budget in the latter half of February -- visited the Delhi BJP’s Pandit Pant Marg office Wednesday. Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman was also there, holding a meeting with the party’s media and publicity coordinators, sources said.
Addressing a press conference, Meenakshi Lekhi, the BJP MP from New Delhi, outlined what the Centre had achieved on women’s safety and the measures it planned to take if voted to power.
The 22 ministers, aided by senior BJP leaders, have also been asked to publicise eight issues shortlisted by the party — power and water, education, health, skill development and IT, housing, transport, Yamuna and welfare measures for the Purvanchal community.
The team includes Rajnath Singh (home), Smriti Irani (HRD), JP Nadda (health), Nitin Gadkari (transport), Ravi Shankar Prasad (telecom), Piyush Goyal (power), Radha Mohan Singh (farm) and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (MoS skill development).
Besides, 17 MPs — including Lekhi — will hit the campaign trail and speak on various issues every day. BJP chief ministers including ML Khattar (Haryana) and Shivraj Chauhan (MP) and Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal of the Akali Dal will also pitch in.
A senior BJP leader said the move was largely aimed at bringing back order to the Delhi office, which saw ugly protests by ticket aspirants and supporters of state chief Satish Upadhyay following Kiran Bedi’s induction and elevation as chief ministerial candidate.
“There is lack of coordination at the state level that reflects in our candidates’ rallies and roadshows. There have even been instances when party workers weren’t aware of the CM candidate’s programme, leading to poor turnout. The senior leadership will plug the gaps,” said another senior leader.
The party has also decided not to bank solely on Bedi as she has to focus on her constituency, the sources said. Irani and her colleagues Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti have already started holding rallies in the city. Such rallies, roadshows and public meetings by senior ministers will pick up in the days to come, they added.