Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the cynosure of all eyes at the two-day BJP national council that got underway on Saturday.
Sporting an Osho Rajneesh-style head gear, Modi acknowledged the attention, saying that he would do what he can to enable the BJP win the UP polls early next year.
"I will campaign in UP if asked to by the party," Modi told a TV journalist. Posters of his picture, along with that of BJP president Rajnath Singh were put up at important points in the city.
Modi was declared a "state guest" by UP Chief Minister Mulyam Singh Yadav and put up in a five-star hotel for reasons of security and protocol.
2. Former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee willingly obliged photographers who wanted him and LK Advani to get closer for a perfect shot while lighting the lamp to mark the inauguration of the conclave, and later when he released a CD on late Pramod Mahajan's tips to be a good public speaker.
3. Mahajan was also remembered by more than one speaker at the conclave. Many BJP leaders recalled that he had managed the last meeting of the national council in Mumbai, which was held to mark the silver jubilee of BJP. Mahajan was killed in April this year when his brother shot at him.
4. BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who was an understudy of Mahajan when it came to managing party jamborees, was seen very active on the dais. Naqvi spent three days in advance in Lucknow to prepare the state and the huge makeshift auditorium that was put at the RSS-run Saraswathi Sishu Mandir.
5. Shooter Jaspal Rana looked set for an electoral debut as top BJP leaders AB Vajpayee, LK Advani and Rajnath Singh honoured him at the national council meeting for his success at the Doha Asian Games. Rana, whose sister is a daughter-in-law of the BJP chief, was honoured with a shawl and a memento. The 30-year-old sportsman is tipped to be fielded as BJP candidate from Dehradum where the Assembly elections are due early next year. "The decision lies with the party," Rana said when asked whether he would like to contest elections in Uttaranchal. Earlier, Rana had joined a signature campaign to press for the execution of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal, one of the key issues of the BJP ahead of Assembly elections in several states, including in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
6. Senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon did not mince words in what the party expected from Rajnath Singh whose election as BJP president was ratified for three years by the party's national council on Saturday. "There is a lot of hope and expectation from Rajnathji. People are looking again at the BJP as an alternative," he said while welcoming him. It is no secret that Tandon and Singh are not great friends. The UP polls are likely to see leaders like Tandon, pressing for ticket for candidates of their choice.
7. Second-line BJP leaders Murli Manoohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj and VK Malhotra sat on the second row of chairs put up behind AB Vajpayee, LK Advani, Jaswant Singh and Rajnath Singh. "Looks like the second row is literally the second line though Joshi has often said there is yet another line between the first line and the second line. That is where he includes himself," commented a BJP leader.