UP stamp in BJP's 2014 game plan?

Lucknow, July 20 (IANS) As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday announced its election management teams, the stamp of Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of 80 members to the Lok Sabha and to which party president Rajnath Singh belongs, was very much in evidence.

Or that is how people here are seeing it.

While Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is in an enviable position of being the probable prime ministerial candidate of the party for 2014, BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh have been assigned major tasks for the campaign.

Former Human Resource Development (HRD) minister and BJP MP from Varanasi Murli Manohar Joshi is the chief of the 11-member committee that will draft the manifesto of the party. BJP national vice president and leader from Meerut, Satyapal Malik, is also a member of the committee.

The media committee entrusted with coordinating with the fourth estate and social media has names like Sudhanshu Trivedi, who is from Lucknow and is a long-standing confidante of BJP president Rajnath Singh. Uttar Pradesh's general secretary in charge and former home minister of Gujarat Amit Shah is also in the team.

Varun Gandhi, BJP MP from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh, has been given the task of coordinating political rallies, which will take place in the run-up to the polls.

The BJP plans to have more than 100 rallies all over the country, with the maximum being addressed by Narendra Modi. National secretary Vinod Pandey also finds place in important committees, while Uma Bharati, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and presently legislator from Charkhari in Uttar Pradesh, has found place in the committee that would coordinate and fish for votes from the unorganised labour segment. BJP leader and legislator from Lucknow, Kalraj Mishra, is also in this committee.

Vinay Katiyar, the firebrand leader of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple movement - also from Uttar Pradesh - and Vijay Sonkar Shahstri are members of the committee that will take care of the labour class, the farmers and weavers, important vote banks that can make or mar the political prospects of any party worth its name.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, vice president of the BJP and former MP from Rampur, will be coordinating programmes of the party.

Party leaders in the state are overjoyed with the "supremacy of UP" in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

"There is no doubt that UP is a big, important state and politically the most crucial one. It is obvious that the party focuses here," said Laxmikant Bajpayi, state BJP president. The party has been endorsing maximum focus on Uttar Pradesh not only because it sends the maximum MPs to the Lok Sabha but also because it is home to Ayodhya, the land which is close to the BJP's ideology.

Rajnath Singh, who has been the chief minister of the state, and the party has assigned him the task of garnering maximum seats from Uttar Pradesh to Modi's close aide Amit Shah. The party is also coordinating with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), which have a well oiled network in the state.

Party leaders say in the coming months, the central leadership will descend on the state and take on the Congress and regional parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party.

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

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