PM Chairs BJP’s First UP Election Meeting In Delhi, Joins Meet Virtually


UP will vote for a new government in a seven-phase poll starting February 10

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing a meeting of the BJP’s Central Election Committee ahead of Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh next month. The PM joined the meeting – being held at the party’s headquarters in Delhi – online, after 42 staff members tested positive for Covid yesterday.

Apart from the Prime Minister, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, both of whom have also tested positive for Covid, also joined virtually.

Home Minister Amit Shah and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, as well as his deputies Dinesh Sharma and Keshav Prasad Maurya, are present at the party HQ.

Among the big points to be discussed today is whether or not Yogi Adityanath will contest the election; if he does so, it will likely be from one of two temple towns – Ayodhya or Mathura.

Adityanath has never contested an Assembly election. He has previously represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat five times, and is currently a member of the state’s Legislative Council.

Sources told NDTV yesterday the party is considering this move as much to further build his brand as a Hindutva icon as to counter negative press over the shock exit of seven MLAs, including cabinet ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan, over the past 72 hours.

The final decision, sources have said, will be taken by Prime Minister Modi.

Today’s meeting follows marathon sessions held Tuesday and Wednesday to finalise the list of candidates who will contest the first two phases, which will be held on February 10 and February 14.

A total of 113 seats in the western part of Uttar Pradesh will vote in these phases.

The BJP’s core group for the UP polls, led by Amit Shah, met for over 14 hours on Wednesday.

The core group met for over 10 hours on Tuesday as well, during which Mr Shah conducted a sector-wise review and took feedback from the regional leaders about the ground reality in the state.

The spate of meetings over the past three days indicates the BJP is firmly in election mode ahead of polls in five states over the next two months – UP, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

In UP, the Yogi Adityanath government faces a stern test from Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and his ‘rainbow alliance’ of regional parties, particularly those from non-Yadav OBC communities.

The BJP is trying to stitch together something similar with allies Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal and Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party, both of whom met Amit Shah yesterday to discuss seat-sharing.

In 2017 the BJP gave 11 seats to the Apna Dal and eight to Omprakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. This time around Mr Rajbhar has joined hands with the Samajwadi Party.

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