Will Amit Shah deliver UP to BJP?

Lucknow, June 12 (IANS) As Amit Shah, the controversial close confidante of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, arrived here Wednesday on his maiden visit to Uttar Pradesh, opinion is divided on his ability to deliver the country's most populous state to the BJP.

While the BJP's old guard is edgy about Shah's entry into UP politics, the new generation leaders feel the newly-appointed general secretary in-charge of the party's state unit could bring in the "much awaited generational change".

The popularity of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been on tehe decline in the state for the last one decade.

Those were heydays of the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement, an old-timer pointed out while admitting that "such a spectacular turnaround is not possible now".

He, however, conceded that Shah could be a "polarising factor" in the state, which is "on the boil due to minority appeasement policies of the Samajwadi Party (SP) government".

"We are very hopeful that Amit Shah's entry into UP will reap rich dividends for us," said BJP's state spokesperson Vijay Pathak. Pointing out that the Narendra Modi team had repeatedly proven its mettle in election management, Pathak added that a road map would soon be chalked out for the party.

"People have become disenchanted with the state as well as the union government. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is still a rejected lot. I feel the time is ripe for us to cash on the anti-incumbency," said Hriday Narayan Dixit, a BJP veteran and former state minister.

The younger generation in the BJP says that Amit Shah and his team will "add value" to the party's fight in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP for long has not had a vote-rich face in the state. The tallest state leader the BJP had was former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who twice left the party in a huff - first after his tiff with former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and later when he was not allowed to handpick candidates for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

The party, which had 182 seats and a 25 percent vote share in the late 1990's, has now been pushed out of contention in Uttar Pradesh.

With the rise of Samajwadi Party and the BSP, the political space has shrunk for national parties in UP.

However, political observer and senior journalist Rajiv Ranjan Jha said: "The BJP is well-placed to take on the Congress nationally in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls."

"The fact remains that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the centre is scam tainted and the SP state government has not much to show. I think the BJP will do well this time," he added.

A party source said that Shah's entry would also herald a "corporate-politics nexus" based on the Gujarat model and electioneering will become more jazzy, tech-savvy and modern.

"The old guard, both at the central and state levels, would perish now. The generational change taking place within the party is coming to UP in the form of Amit Shah," the source said.

A close aide pointed out that Shah knows he is against an "uphill task".

"UP is a dicy and huge state. It has its own political thought. One has to completely understand how things play out here, and that is why Amit bhai has extended his stay in the state by another day," he said.

To understand the politics of UP, Amit Shah would spend two days in the state capital and would hold meetings with all state unit functionaries, eight regional presidents, general secretaries, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders and party workers.

There is also a clamour in the state unit about seeing Narendra Modi contesting from a Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh and party sources say that Varanasi and Lucknow could be the potential seats for the Gujarat satrap.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at mohit.d@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »