Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has proved to be a 'saviour' for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) many a times in the past, has once again found prominence in the party's poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
This is when the octogenarian is keeping off active politics owing to his poor health.
With the January 30 assembly elections not far away, the former Prime Minister's "beaming face with genial expressions" can be seen splashed across the commercials placed prominently by the saffron party in newspapers. The party intends to cash in on two factors associated with the former PM — his caste (Brahmin) and his clean image as a politician.
The saffron brigade feels that his clean image would give an edge to its election campaign against the Congress, which is struggling on the front because of scams in the UPA.
The party hopes that the projection of Vajpayee would also help polarise Uttarakhand's upper caste voters in its favour.
"We are following the same strategy in our election campaign in Uttar Pradesh which, like Uttarakhand, also has a sizeable number of upper caste voters and where the lower caste votes are divided mainly between the Samajwadi Party and the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party," said a key office-bearer of the state BJP.
Apart from Vajpayee, the only other leader who finds prominence in the BJP's media blitzkrieg is chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri. Again, like the former Prime Minister, Khanduri is both a leader with a clean image and also a Brahmin by caste.
In fact, the former Major General occupies more space in the BJP's ad campaigns than his mentor Vajpayee.
The BJP has coined a crisp slogan —Khanduri Hai Jaroori and plans to portray him as party's mascot.
It was owing to his clean image and his being a Brahmin by caste that the BJP high command was forced to re-nominate Khanduri as chief minister just two years after the party had lost all the five Lok Sabha seats in the hill state in the general elections of 2009.
Khanduri, who was brought in following the ruling BJP's dismal show in the party's internal surveys, did not disappoint his political bosses either. A number of anti-graft laws including his initiative of bringing the chief minister within the ambit of the Lokayukta "for the first time in the country" by getting a Lokayukta Bill passed in the state assembly, saw the saffron party's stock rising in Uttarakhand, as per its internal surveys. No wonder, the BJP has also started projecting Khanduri as its next CM.