The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 25 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

To Vaishno Devi, ahead of last leg

New Delhi, March 24: The BJP today cemented an alliance with the Apna Dal, a caste outfit in Uttar Pradesh, as Jaswant Singh, Lal Muni Choubey and Harin Pathak soldiered on, determined to take on the party as Independents after being denied tickets.

Undeterred by the pockets of rebellion visible in “game-changer” states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — where the BJP is looking to improve on its 2009 tally — its Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi will launch the final leg of his campaign for the Lok Sabha election on March 26 from Udhampur, near Jammu.

Modi will pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi temple before addressing the first public meeting for his “Mission Good Governance” that summarises his statement of intention for the polls.

“The Congress and the rest of the Opposition can keep using the Hindutva bait to communalise the polls. Look how Digvijaya Singh (of the Congress) is jumping in joy after we denied the ‘Har, Har Modi’ slogan was coined by us. He claimed we capitulated under Shankaracharya Swaroopanand’s pressure. Modi is determined not to deflect his focus from governance and development,” a BJP office-bearer stressed.

Amit Shah, Modi’s eyes and ears in Uttar Pradesh, announced that the BJP was giving away two seats to the Apna Dal, a party of the Kurmi backward caste. The Dal will fight from Pratapgarh and Mirzapur.

Anupriya, the daughter of the Dal’s late founder, Sonelal Patel, will contest from Mirzapur. She had been elected to the Assembly in 2012 from a seat in rural Varanasi.

The Dal’s vote-share was 4.5 per cent but it is concentrated in a few seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh where the BJP hopes the alliance could bring in “big gains”.

Asked why the BJP had chased small parties and that too in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where it claimed Modi’s candidacy (from Varanasi) would set the Ganga on fire and its own candidates could sail through breezily, a source claimed: “We have to secure our flanks. The Modi wave is like the icing on the cake. But the cake itself has to be prepared without any flaws.

“Loose ends must be tied up and the flanks secured so that there are no chinks for the adversary to exploit.”

As Rajnath Singh sallied forth, albeit briefly, into “NaMo terrain” by daring to project the prospective NDA government as a “BJP government” and not one helmed by Modi, the BJP made it clear that Modi was their campaign’s pivot. “Our official slogan is ‘Ab ki baar, Modi ki sarkar’ (this time it is a Modi government),” stressed vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Briefing the media today, Naqvi — who is the central co-ordinator for the campaign — said Modi would address nearly 200 rallies in 300 Lok Sabha constituencies and Rajnath around 160.

While he added that L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and other senior leaders would be hopping through the country, he was silent when asked to give the number of meetings each would address.

The BJP is pulling out all stops in the last leg of electioneering to steer “unwanted” attention away from the internal bickering by keeping the focus conspicuously on Modi.

Naqvi said Modi would unspool his “vision” for “good governance” at the Centre in his next meetings by speaking on a range of issues from economics, education, employment, rural development and internal security. The BJP has coined slogans encapsulating his “vision” that reads “Good Governance=Less Governance, More Rights” and “Soul of Villages, Amenities of Cities”.

Modi, he said, will send a signed mail to each voter in the constituency where he will speak and to those living nearby to join his rallies.