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Lucknow,Ratan Mani Lal(firstpost): Is the magic of Amit Shah wearing off? Many senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders from Uttar Pradesh appear to think so, as was evident from the attendance at the one-day meeting held on Kanpur on 11 July to review the progress of the party’s mass contact programme as part of its Mission 2017.
A file image of Amit Shan. PTI imageA file image of Amit Shan. PTI image
Till about a year ago, the arrival and presence of Shah, BJP president and closest confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, used to be enough reason for party leaders at all levels to rush to the venue.. At the Kanpur meeting although all BJP MPs, legislators and district party leaders from Uttar Pradesh were expected to attend, the list of absentees was long and prominent. These included Kanpur MP Murli Manohar Joshi and Kanpur mayor Jagatvir Singh Dron, other MPs Mahant Adityanath, Varun Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Uma Bharti, Mahesh Sharma, V.K. Singh, Manohar Parrikar and the Mathura MP Hema Malini who was injured in a road accident recently.
The absence of most of these was brushed aside as the result of previously scheduled engagements. However, some party leaders recalled that such absenteeism at Shah’s meetings was almost unthinkable till a few months ago. Even during the programme, there were several disturbances over which Shah expressed his displeasure.
“There was a time that no leader could afford to be absent from Shah’s meetings and there was a clamour among them to show their faces to him, but now apparently the regional and caste differences have started resurfacing,” a leader from Lucknow said.
However, all the party’s MLAs were seen trying to make their presence felt. Another leader also said that it had now become difficult to meet Shah as access to him was now limited through only a few party leaders.
Shah’s address, it is learnt, was more like a class as he went on to caution the participants that he would not settle for anything less than a BJP government in UP in 2017. He told the party cadre to use every trick in the book to ensure a BJP win the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly election. In fact, his call to use dal, bal aur bahubal (party, strength and muscle power) to ensure BJP victory received a rousing response since the proceedings were dominated by examples of rising crime and the poor law and order situation in the Akhilesh Yadav regime in the state.
Shah also did not mince words in pointing out that all MPs sitting there had previously lost in the state, and that they had won only because of Modi in the 2014 election.
“If you want to remain in Modi’s good books, you have to first win the Panchayat election and then the 2017 Assembly election,” he said. He even cautioned Union ministers that they should be prepared to lose their jobs if they did not deliver results in 2017.
The party, it is learnt has decided not to project any individual as its chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, and the campaign will largely be dependent on Modi’s image and performance. The part is eyeing leaders from the Bahujan Samaj Party and also some OBC leaders, and steps may be taken to induct them into the BJP fold.
Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya (from Madhya Pradesh) was among the prominent figures during the proceedings, and said that the party had set a target of contacting one crore homes in the coming year as part of its mass contact programme. Of this, more than 21 lakh persons had already been contacted.
The BJP meet also sparked a string of protests. Activists from the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), Samajwadi Party and NSUI, the students’ wing of the Congress held separate protests. However, the protesters at different locations in the city were chased away by BJP activists. Despite that a hoarding and some posters of the party meet were found defaced with black paint in the morning. BJP city unit president Surendra Maithani said posters and hoardings depicting the Prime Minister and the BJP President were defaced at Mall Road, VIP Road, Jajmau and other areas of the city. The party leaders had these removed and lodged a complaint with the police.