With ally JD(U) strongly opposed to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi campaigning in Bihar, BJP has kept him out of its list of star campaigners for the upcoming Assembly polls and indicated that it would not raise the Ayodhya issue in the state. Varun Gandhi also does not figure in the list.
The list of BJP's 40 star campaigners, submitted by the party to the Election Commission on Thursday, does not include Modi, sources said.
This has been done apparently in view of strong reservations expressed by ally JD(U) against his campaigning in the state which goes to six-phased polls from October 21.
JD(U), which runs the coalition government with BJP, has been conveying to the ally that Modi should not campaign in Bihar as it would hurt the electoral prospects of the coalition because of the taint of Gujarat riots on him.
The decision to keep Modi away from Bihar campaign comes despite demands from within BJP that he should visit the state to garner votes for the party.
The list includes senior national leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, M M Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Ananth Kumar, the sources said.
Senior party leaders from Bihar, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Ravi Shanker Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Hussain and C P Thakur also figure in the list of BJP campaigners.
The BJP is expected to launch its campaign from October 9 or 10.
The party indicated that the Ayodhya title suit verdict would not be made an election issue in Bihar polls and development and law and order issues would be highlighted to ensure that JD(U)-BJP alliance retains power.
"The Ayodhya verdict will not be an election issue. It is much more than that for us," a senior BJP leader said.
This is significant as Advani and Joshi, who have been actively associated with the Ayodhya movement, will be campaigning in the state.
In return for keeping Narendra Modi and the Hindutva issue on the backburner, Nitish agreed to give BJP 102 seats -the same as in 2005, a BJP leader said.
"JD(U) has already said that it would go with the court verdict in the Ayodhya title suit case. Now, the verdict has come in our favour so JD(U) will have to reconcile with that," the BJP leader said.