Bhartiya Janata Party would lay the foundation of next NDA government at the Centre by performing better in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s trusted aide Amit Shah said on Wednesday.
Shah, who is also BJP general secretary, was in Lucknow to take over as the party’s in-charge of the state. His visit indicates the BJP is banking on Modi magic to improve its rather embarrassing tally of 10 MPs from the state that sends 80 MPs to the Parliament.
“This is my first visit to the state and at this moment all I can say is that UP is clearly very important for the party and I am confident that a BJP-led government would be formed in 2014,” said Shah, considered an expert in poll management.
Shah is scheduled to hold discussions with BJP veterans like Hukum Singh, Lalji Tandon, Kalraj Mishra, Vinay Katiyar and Om Prakash Singh. He has also been asked by Modi to especially meet former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh who has already merged his fledgling Jan Kranti Party (JKP) with the BJP and whose return to the saffron fold is a certainty. Under Kalyan, BJP had formed its own government riding on the temple wave in the state in the 90s before factional feud and loss of mass leaders led to its decline.
The BJP had managed to win 47 seats in last year's assembly polls and in the 2009 Lok Sabha election it had won 10 of the 80 seats.
Shah also plans meeting party cadres to gauge their mood. The popular sentiment within the party is that if “Shah is here, Modi can’t be far behind”.
In fact, several party workers plan to ask Shah to get Modi in UP “as soon as possible.”
After Shah, Khursheed Suma, national convener of the Narendra Modi Fans Club (NMFC) is scheduled to visit Lucknow to build on brand Modi in the most populous state, indicating the generational shift that the party under the Rajnath-Modi combine appears set to take.
“The party cadre here is gripped by Modi magic. The opposition is under Modi phobia. Shah has been tasked with a specific responsibility and we are confident he would deliver,” said BJP’s chief spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
Modi’s popularity was visible in the posters that greeted Shah. While Modi’s pictures sold like hot cakes, an undermined Advani appeared in a few posters.