A couple of months back, a group of young BJP workers from Lucknow visited Delhi to meet Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi who had come there to attend a party function. During their blink-and-you-miss interaction, all they could manage to tell Modi was this: “Please contest from Lucknow! People want you.”
Modi smiled. The clamour for Gujarat chief minister has increased significantly since then in a state where the party is in complete disarray. In two successive Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and 2009, the BJP has managed to win just 10 of the 80 seats. This is quite a climbdown from the 52 seats it had won from UP in 1998. As 2014 approaches, the entire BJP is hoping to recover lost ground in UP by riding the Modi-wave.
A section of RSS leadership is backing the plan that also includes shuffling the constituencies of top BJP leaders in UP. Bringing Modi’s trusted lieutenant Amit Shah as UP in-charge could also be a part of the plan. But, as of now, these are among the many possibilities, a party source points out.
“The party is exploring a variety of options. The final decision would be based on the winning probability of senior leaders from newer constituencies as also their ability to make an impact on the party’s prospects in adjoining seats,” says a source. But that’s a part of the story.
In true RSS-BJP style, another section of the saffron brigade feels that ‘Modi-in-UP’ talk is fuelled by Rajnath baiters; who feel, that Gujarat leaders’ arrival in the state would help them escape scrutiny over their rather dismal people-connect ratio all these years. “This section is busy pushing for importing Modi to state,” says a leader.
A source said, “The possibility of Modi contesting from UP is indeed there but not as strong as is being made out to be. There are various things to be considered. For instance how would Gujarat react if Modi shifts to UP? What happens to Gujarati pride that Modi so often talks about? Would the BJP risk getting Modi to contest from UP where his success isn’t guaranteed over Gujarat, where his name spells magic?” Also, as a BJP leader says, while Modi’s presence in UP would galvanise Muslims, it remains to be seen whether there would be en bloc consolidation of the Hindu vote – a tough task even by Modi’s high standards.