New Delhi, Oct. 17: Narendra Modi will contest the Lok Sabha elections from “outside Gujarat”, his principal aide Amit Shah said today, providing the first on-record corroboration of what was being widely speculated.
The BJP general secretary added that the list of states from where the Gujarat chief minister might be fielded “certainly” included Uttar Pradesh, where Shah is in charge of party affairs.
Modi is set to hold his first slew of rallies in the heartland state since being nominated as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. His itinerary includes Kanpur (October 19), Jhansi (October 25) and Bahraich (November 8).
“The country is Modi’s to contest; he can fight from anywhere because there is a clamour (for him) from every region,” Shah told The Telegraph.
Asked about a state that is far from Delhi, Shah laughed and said: “Not a place that distant; more like the country’s heartland.”
He made it clear that Modi would fight from one seat: “No business of two, three or four places as the media has been speculating.”
Shah dismissed the suggestion that Gujarat might feel short-changed if Modi contested from elsewhere.
“No, Gujarat feels blessed because it will get the next Prime Minister. It doesn’t matter if Modi is an MP from there or not,” Shah claimed.
The BJP is playing for high stakes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together account for 120 of the Lok Sabha’s 542 seats. The party believes that if Modi contests from Uttar Pradesh, it would signal a “committed” engagement with the state and motivate the cadres and the voters, especially the floating voters.
Uttar Pradesh has given India eight Prime Ministers. “But, of course, it is for the party to decide (where Modi will contest from),” Shah dutifully added.
“Modiji has never chosen even his Assembly constituency. The party decided that for him as for the others.”
Shah admitted that the BJP had been bruised in the past couple of elections in Uttar Pradesh, but claimed that next year’s general election would be different.
“In the past two Assembly polls, the voters had made up their minds to overthrow the incumbent. The BJP could not convince them that it was also an alternative, so the voters were polarised between Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav,” Shah said.
“This time, the people have made up their minds to junk the Congress. They see the BJP as the best option.”
Asked what evidence there was of a “pro-Modi wave”, he said: “Of all the states, the people of Uttar Pradesh are the most politically vibrant, most politically aware. They know Modi has come up from the grassroots.”
He added: “They know his policies are in sync with the concept of the welfare state that our Constitution envisages. People know he will take this concept to its logical end.”
If Modi was indeed committed to realising the welfare state of the Constitution-makers, why did he carry the image of being pro-rich and pro-big business?
“I don’t wish to take names,” Shah said. “Those who criticise him are unaware of Gujarat’s ground realities. Gujarat is not Hitler’s state. You are free to go, anyone’s free to go and check the situation.”