Huge billboards of BJP MP from Sultanpur, Varun Gandhi, greet everyone coming out of the airport and railway station — hometown of first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, his great grandfather.
The posters urging people to make BJP victorious in next year’s state polls and set a victory target 265-plus seats for clear majority in the 404-seat assembly, have been splashed across the city that will host over 300 BJP leaders for two days.
Electoral victory in Assam, debut in Kerala and significant jump in vote share in West Bengal have enthused BJP to take on UP, which the party won in 2014 Lok Sabha election. The state will be Modi’s most crucial electoral challenge and the BJP will blow poll bugle at Sunday’s conclave.
But the poster war outside the meeting venue tells a different story. There’s a silent battle being fought among party leaders to become UP’s chief ministerial face.
Varun’s posters, which stop short of projecting him as the chief ministerial aspirant, jostle for space with those of party’s state unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya.
“Uttar Pradesh ki karun pukar, abki baar Bhajpa sarkar (Uttar Pradesh’s piteous cry, BJP government this time),” reads one of the posters that has Varun’s picture along with Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Different surveys on who is BJP’s most-favoured CM face give Varun an edge over his nearest competition but Gandhi remains at odds with party’s high command.
Maurya, meanwhile, does not find anything wrong with the poster war. “These posters have been put up to welcome the delegates. Anyone can put up posters, but you cannot become a candidate for the chief minister’s post because of that,” he told reporters.
The BJP leadership has maintained that it has not taken a call on who will be their chief ministerial candidate and the present poster war in the city reflects the unease within. Home minister Rajnath Singh, HRD minister Smriti Irani and Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath are seen as other probables for the coveted post.