BJP announces team for 2014 polls; Sushma, Jaitley in panel

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The BJP Friday announced its election campaign team for the 2014 polls under Narendra Modi's stewardship. Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, three party chief ministers and three former party presidents are part of the team.

The announcement was a signal of the Gujarat chief minister's possible projection as prime ministerial candidate.

The party also formed 20 sub-committees, under the central election campaign committee, to work on a host of tasks including reaching out to new and young voters and preparing the manifesto for the next Lok Sabha polls.

"All the sub-committees will be steered under the leadership of Modi. The party has given Modi the responsibility of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections... Under his leadership, the campaign committee will be moving forward," Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Ananth Kumar said here.

The announcement of members of national campaign committee for the Lok Sabha polls came over a month after Modi was appointed its chief at the party's conclave in Goa.

The national campaign committee will work under guidance of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, senior party leader Lal Krishna Advani and party president Rajnath Singh.

Ananth Kumar said that former party presidents Murli Manohar Joshi, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari will also be members of the national central campaign committee. Its other members include general secretaries Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Ram Lal and three chief ministers - Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Manohar Parrikar.

The presence of Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, in the panel is being considered significant as she is also seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate. There were apprehensions about whether she would work under Modi's leadership.

Jaitley, who is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, too, is considered a possible prime ministerial candidate.

Advani, also believed to nurse prime ministerial ambitions, does not have any functional responsibility and will be guiding the panel.

All other senior leaders have been given responsibilities.

The BJP Friday also signalled its intentions to be "in election mode" for the Lok Sabha polls by forming panels on key aspects related to the polls. Kumar said the party's agenda will be "good governance versus bad governance".

The manifesto committee will be headed by Murli Manohar Joshi and have party MPs Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Shahnawaz Hussain, former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, former Bihar Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, and former MP V.K. Malhotra among its members.

Gadkari will head the panel to prepare the vision document.

The party plans to reach out to "aspiring India" in a big way by wooing new voters, estimated to be about 20 percent of the electorate. The committee for that purpose will be headed by Amit Shah, and have Poonam Mahajan, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Trivendra Rawat as members.

Sushma Swaraj and Jaitley will together head the publicity committee, with general secretary Amit Shah and Sudanshu Trivedi as members.

The BJP plans to organise over 100 rallies, beginning August, for the Lok Sabha polls, to be coordinated by Kumar and party general secretary Varun Gandhi.

Professionals, including doctors and engineers, will also be wooed by a panel comprising of Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Prakash Javadekar as members.

The panel to formulate a charge-sheet against the United Progressive Alliance government will be headed by Gopinath Munde and Ravi Shankar Prasad, the party's deputy leaders in the parliament.

Party general secretary Murlidhar Rao will head a panel to reach out to farmers and artisans, among others.

Gadkari has been asked to pay "special attention" to Delhi.

The party also formed panels on traditional campaign, special contact campaign, election machinery, information communication campaign, literature preparation, programme and transport, feedback from people, north-east campaign, election commission and legal affairs and booth committee coordination.

Party sources said that upcoming polls in four states - Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan - were the immediate priority for the party, and Modi was unlikely to projected prime ministerial candidate before that.

Sources said the announcements were delayed as some senior leaders had reservations over "reporting to Modi".

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