Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wants to spearhead a "positive campaign" for the Assembly polls on the basis of his government's performance as the last one was fought in the aftermath of the Godhra riots. At the same time, BJP strategists have concluded that he should not give up his aggressive approach - lest the audience find him softening on key issues.
Modi and BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley who is in-charge, okayed a publicity blitz at a meeting in Gandhinagar on Tuesday, which will take off later this month.
The BJP's candidates for the elections would be announced close to the nomination dates and not in advance. The new strategy has been adopted to prevent the rebel numbers from swelling once the aspirants are denied party tickets.
There is no word yet on how many sitting MLAs will be given tickets but it is clear Modi wants a number of them axed to cut down the anti-incumbency factor.
Though BJP leaders were earlier talking about 30 per cent of the sitting MLAs being denied ticket, Jaitley wishes to go by the "winnability" factor of the candidates, which is being determined through surveys.
"As such, the candidates would be declared only after November 10-15," said BJP chief Rajnath Singh. The nominations for the first phase of polls for 87 seats are to start on November 15.
Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who is opposed to Modi, has refused to be part of the campaign management. Jaitely met Patel a day ago. Though Patel has refused to associate himself with the selection of candidates, he has sought a say in ticket distribution in Saurashtra, which can tilt the scales in the tussle with Congress.
The BJP's central leadership has conveyed to him that it is willing to accommodate his views to prevent dissension in the ranks. Patel has told the central leaders that he will not back Modi's detractors who are planning to join hands with the Congress.
The leadership is averse to taking any pre-emptive action against the rebels at this stage. It thinks that expulsion of MPs like Vallabhai Katheria and Somabhai Patel who are actively working against Modi will only help them escape the anti-defection laws.