Smarting from the electoral defeat in the the three Hindi heartland states, the BJP has already got into poll mode for the 2019 big battle, with the party leadership banking on former Gujarat Home Minister Gordhan Zadafia for poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP national president Amit Shah on Wednesday announced the appointment of poll in-charge and co-in-charge for important states and packed them with a mix of old and young – at the same time, picking up a few RSS functionaries.
For Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to Lower House of Parliament and the BJP had managed to win 71 seats in 2014, Mr Shah has appointed his former party colleague Mr Zadafia as the in-charge while Dushyant Gautam and Narottam Mishra will also be assisting him.
Five years back, Mr Shah himself as the general secretary steered party’s election campaign in UP, and was subsequently rewarded for the stewardship in the polls, which saw near decimation of its rivals, Samajwadi Party and Congress.
In the fiercely fought polls, BJP and its ally Apna Dal bagged 73 seats and BSP of Dalit mascot Mayawati could not win a single seat.
Mr Zadafia was MoS Home in Gujarat during 2002 and had joined Gujarat Parivartan Party of BJP veteran Keshubhai Patel.
For Chhattisgarh, where BJP suffered humiliating defeat in recently held assembly polls, the saffron party’s poll in-charge will be Dr Anil Jain.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was party’s in-charge in Karnataka and Rajasthan, has again been given the responsibility of elections in the desert state, which too BJP had lost. Party spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi will be his compatriot.
For Madhya Pradesh, however, another Union Minister Dharmedhra Pradhan, who was in-charge has been removed and the responsibility now falls on Swatandra Dev Singh and Satish Upadhyay.
Apparently, BJP chief wants to keep Mr Pradhan as a possible face of the party in Odisha, where along with the Lok Sabha polls, the state elections are also due.
The incumbent in-charge of Odisha Arun Singh has been retained for the state where the BJP has set an ambitious target to unseat the ruling BJD chief Navin Patnaik.
For Bihar, where the saffron party has already announced seat share formula with the JD(U) and the LJP, the poll in-charge will be Bhupender Yadav.
In last week’s seat sharing talks with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Mr Yadav was one of the key interlocutors.
For TDP-ruled Andhra Pradesh, Mr Shah has reposed faith in Sunil Deodhar, who was the chief architect of the saffron party’s nearly unbelievable victory in the Marxist bastion Tripura, earlier this year.
Mr V Muraleedharan, former Kerala Unit president and Rajya Sabha MP will be the poll in-charge for Andhra Pradesh.
For Assam, which sends 14 members to Lok Sabha, party’s in-charge will be Mahendra Singh.
Among others, for Gujarat, Om Prakash Mathur will be the in-charge, while another party spokesman Nalin Kohli will be overseeing party’s election strategy in Manipur and Nagaland.
In Punjab, where the saffron party put up a poor show in 2014 and where Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also lost, the responsibility for working on the poll strategy has been given to Haryana Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu.
BJP chief has also given the responsibility of Chandigarh union territory Capt Abhimanyu.
Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot will be party’s poll in-charge for Uttarakhand, where BJP won the five seats in 2014.
The poll in-charge for Telanagna and Sikkim will be Arvind Limbavali and Nitin Navin, respectively.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, who also associated himself during party’s election campaign in Karnataka, has been named as the poll in-charge for Jharkhand, while party’s general secretary Tirath Singh Rawat will be in-charge of Himachal Pradesh.
The two states of Haryana and Jharkhand will also go to the polls in later part of 2019.
The Insides Speak