Till about a year ago, Shah’s arrival was reason enough for BJP leaders and workers to rush to the venue. At the Kanpur meeting, held to review the mass contact programe, the list of absentees was long, including MPs, MLAs and district party leaders.
It was unthinkable not to attend Shah’s meetings, till a few months ago. Among those who remained absent, included Kanpur mayor Jagatvir Singh Dron, MPs Murli Manohar Joshi, Mahant Adityanath, Hema Malini, Varun Gandhi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parrikar, VK Singh, Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Uma Bharati and Mahesh Sharma.
However, all party MLAs tried to make their presence felt. It is hard to meet Shah of late, as approach to him is now limited, said a leader.
Shah’s address was more like a sermon to a class, as he told the leaders he wanted a BJP government in UP in 2017. He told the party cadre to use every trick to ensure a BJP win in the assembly polls. His call to use dal, bal aur bahubal (party, strength and muscle power) to ensure a BJP victory received a rousing response.
Shah, closest confidant of PM Narendra Modi, said, those sitting had here previously lost in UP and the MPs won only due to Modi, in the 2014. The BJP has decided not to project any individual as its chief ministerial candidate and Modi’s image, as well as performance will steer the party’s campaign, leaders said. BJP may take measures to induct the BSP Party and some OBC leaders into the party fold.
Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said, the party had set a target of contacting one crore homes as part of its mass contact programme. Of this, more than 21 lakh persons have been contacted.