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Meet BJP's poster boy for UP polls

As a counter for factional fights and lack of unanimity on leadership issue, the party has decided to play the Vajpayee card in the upcoming elections.

Azamgarh, UP: Better late than never. Taking lessons from its Lok Sabha defeat in 2009, it seems Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has planned to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly elections by projecting the face of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The party has used his photographs in the hoardings and banners raised in the route of former UP chief minister Rajnath Singh's Jan Swabhiman Yatra between Behraich and Ayodhya.

File pic

While addressing public meetings, Rajnath repeatedly took Vajpayee's name and his good governance. Surprisingly, he receives the best response from the crowds as and when he mentions Vajpayee in his speech. Taking on the UPA government on the issue of price rise, Rajnath said, "Our economist prime minister Dr Manmohan, whenever asked about the reason of price rise, has said that he has no magic wand to curb price rise overnight. I want to request him to take the magic wand from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who effectively checked price rise during his six years of NDA regime."


Just like old times! Rajnath Singh addressing a rally in UP as part of his
Jan Swabhiman Yatra. Pic/MiD DAY


Winning mantra
Most party leaders in UP believe that the name of Vajpayee may change the party's fortunes in the impending assembly polls. "As the results of elections in Uttar Pradesh are highly dependent on caste equations, as the electorate is divided on caste lines and people believe in mass voting. So, taking the name of Vajpayee is a strategic move," said one of Rajnath's closest aides, who's a part of this Yatra.

BJP expects the name of Vajpayee to draw Brahmin voters from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) towards it. It is a popular perception in UP that Mayawati came to power with the support of Brahmins and scheduled caste voters.

'United we stand'
BJP is also trying to convince the electorate that there is no tussle over the post of chief minister in its ranks. "As the state is witnessing a phase of crisis, I decided to meet the people of UP to rescue them. I don't want the post of CM as I am in national politics," Rajnath said in his speech at Ramnagar in Ambedkar Nagar district. It may be recalled that UP CM Mayawati has predicted that if BJP or Congress come to power, Rajnath or Digvijaya respectively, will become the chief minister.

Away from the spotlight
In December 2005, Vajpayee announced his retirement from active politics, declaring that he would not participate in the next general election. At a rally in the western city of Mumbai, Vajpayee said, "I will not participate in any electoral politics.



There are many other leaders to take forward the work which I and other senior leaders have been doing." In a now famous statement at the BJP's silver Jubilee rally at Mumbai's historic Shivaji Park, Vajpayee announced that "from now onwards, Lal Krishna Advani and Pramod Mahajan will be the Ram-Laxman (the two godly brothers much revered and worshipped by Hindus) of the BJP."

Nitish supports Maya's split-UP plan
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar yesterday lent support to Mayawati's stand to carve four new states out of Uttar Pradesh. "We are in principle in favour of formation of smaller states ... We have been votary of smaller states for fostering a new era of development ... However, it is a matter between Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre," he told reporters in Patna.



Congress meanwhile launched a sharp attack on Mayawati dismissing her proposal as "political gimmickry". "Political gimmickry is no answer to real policy-making decisions. Why suddenly after four years of inaugurating only buildings and statues, the chief minister is remembering this issue? Is it due to the frustration and desperation after the success of Rahul Gandhi's rally?" party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.

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