BJP to carpet-bomb SP stronghold with 39 star campaigners
LUCKNOW: Five Union ministers, 16 UP ministers (including CM Yogi Adityanath), nine senior organisational leaders, six MPs and three MLCs. That’s the BJP‘s line-up for campaign in the bypolls scheduled in Mainpuri Lok Sabha and Rampur and Khatauli assembly seats on December 5.
Turning it into a ‘contest of prestige’, the BJP is learnt to have decided to usher in a three-layer campaign template comprising ground-level canvassing and public meetings by senior organisational leaders, large public meetings by senior party leaders and mass contact programmes by UP ministers to inform people about welfare measures undertaken by the BJP governments at the Centre and state.
The Union ministers proposed to campaign include Rajnath Singh, Sanjiv Balyan, BL Varma, SP Singh Baghel and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. Baghel, in fact, had contested against Akhilesh in Karhal assembly seat – which is a part of the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat – during the 2022 Assembly elections.
Besides CM Yogi Adityanath, as many as 15 UP ministers, including both the deputy CMs – Keshav Maurya and Brajesh Pathak – have been asked to campaign in the bypolls. UP minister for minority affairs Danish Azad Ansari, too, has been engaged to consolidate the Muslim voters in Mainpuri and Rampur.
Among the key organisational leaders set to campaign are BJP national vice-president Radha Mohan Singh, UP BJP chief Bhupendra Chaudhary and general secretary (organisation) Dharmapal Singh. BJP state general secretary Subrata Pathak who defeated Dimple in Kannauj in 2019, too, will camp in Mainpuri. The BJP has also asked former Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to reach Rampur. State BJP’s west UP chief Mohit Beniwal and Braj region chief Rajnikant Maheshwari, too, are scheduled to be put on duty.
The BJP’s move to launch a heavy-duty campaign comes amid party’s plan to pin down Akhilesh in Mainpuri represented by the SP since 1998. SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose demise necessitated the bypoll, had been representing Mainpuri since 2004, except 2014 when he chose to vacate the constituency to keep Azamgarh.
The saffron outfit getting into an overdrive also comes amid Akhilesh attempting to mend ways with his estranged uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav while reaching out to him to send a message of bonhomie . “Such a humongous team of leaders only shows nervousness among BJP leaders. They have failed to deliver on their promises,” said SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi. BJP sources said the party was in no mood to relax and allow the SP to regain strength ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.