The heightening suspense on Narendra Modi’s likely role in Uttar Pradesh notwithstanding, the fans of the Gujarat chief minister - with help from his admirers within the BJP – may launch the UP chapter of the Narendra Modi Fan Club (NMFC) from the state capital.
Also, some youths have floated what they proudly claim is the ‘Narendra Modi army’ – which would be seen holding discussions on Modi’s model, eulogising the BJP’s current poster boy as a leader who wears patriotism on his sleeve.
"We have come together due to our love for Modiji. I think he is a very hot and hit politician whose popularity quotient is very high," says Sushil Tiwari, a member of Modi’s army.
The NMFC, on the other hand, whose scope was so far very limited to Gujarat, has been tasked with the mission of expanding its reach in Uttar Pradesh; Lucknow being the first stopover.
The members of both these groupings make it clear that they aren’t pitching for Modi-from-Lucknow; they say their main aim is to make the party realise the wishes of the party’s hard core voters – that of forcing the BJP to concede the ‘popular demand’ to declare Modi as its PM candidate.
"There was talk that Modiji might contest from Lucknow or Faizabad; the former because of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee connection, the latter due to the temple reason. But that’s just a limited part. The bigger thing is to make the party realise the popular wish of getting Modiji to be declared the PM candidate. He can both revive the party as indeed the country," says a BJP youth wing leader, requesting anonymity.
Many see the arrival of Modi’s man Amit Shah, recently made the national general secretary and tasked with UP affairs, as "too much of a coincidence". The process would be expedited with the arrival of Khursheed Suma, the all-India convener of NFMC to Lucknow either in June or July.
"First, NMFC would concentrate in Lucknow before setting up units in other parts of UP. The idea is to popularise brand Modi," says Himanshu Gupta, the Lucknow in-charge of NMFC who says he has been tasked by Suma to ensure through these clubs to establish Modi as a "powerful and popular leader in UP" like in Gujarat.
The fact that Suma is a Muslim doesn’t harm Modi in anyway; if anything it helps saffron spin-doctors in propagating the idea that the Gujarat chief minister’s development model has an appeal that cuts through religious barriers and state boundaries.
Not surprisingly, in the NFMC meets in UP, Muslim the youths will be encouraged to take part. Modi’s rally, possibly in Lucknow, may then be timed with this makeover attempt at "the right time".
Neeraj Gupta, former Lucknow unit chief of the BJP, disclosed that even before Modi had won Gujarat for a record third time, there were plans to get the NMFC to invite him to Lucknow. The BJP MP from Lucknow Lalji Tandon had in fact written to Purshottam Rupala, a Gujarat party leader close to Modi, informing him about NMFC being set up in Lucknow and seeking time for a Modi-meet.
"In fact Modiji would have been here by now had it not been for his elevation in the BJP organisation. Now that he is both a national general secretary as well as in the party’s parliamentary board, he may have several things to consider," says a party leader.