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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

BJP chief looks east for electoral gains

Shishir Gupta , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 17, 2014
First Published: 01:34 IST(17/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:36 IST(17/8/2014)

Eyeing electoral dividends in BJP's traditionally weak spots of Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, party chief Amit Shah has decided to spend at least a week every month in these states to strengthen the party's base. He begins travelling to these states in the next fortnight.

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Party sources said Shah would visit Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on August 21-22, Odisha on September 1, Kerala on September 3 and West Bengal on September 5-6, besides campaigning in UP and Haryana. "Amit Shah has decided to focus on the party along the Coromandel Coast to ensure that the BJP is not confined to the Hindi heartland," a senior BJP leader said.

It is understood that Shah's priority is West Bengal, where the Kolkata municipal committee elections are due next year. To fine-tune the BJP's poll strategy and take on the TMC, Shah would confabulate with the state party leadership and the state in-charge in Siliguri on September 6-7.

Explaining the vision behind the BJP's 'look east policy', a senior leader said the party needs to have MPs from these states in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as it has already reached optimum levels in UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. "Shah wants the BJP to form governments in at least three of these states so that future electoral losses are offset by these gains," a leader said.

While Shah sees ripe pickings for the party in the forthcoming assembly elections, senior leaders say his priorities are electoral focus on the Coromandel Coast, cementing the party's base in UP and Bihar and galvanising the state leadership and workers in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


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