Modi's bid for PM's post hinges on UP, say local leaders

Modi's bid for PM's post hinges on UP, say local leaders

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Modi's bid for PM's post hinges on UP, say local leaders

Newly appointed BJP election campaign committee chairman Narendra Modi may have helped his party sweep the recently held Gujarat by-poll, but his real test would be in Uttar Pradesh, which has a share of 80 seats in the Lok Sabha.

The challenge before the firebrand saffron leader is not only to drastically increase the party's tally in the 2014 general election but also to lift the sagging morale of the party workers, besides overcoming the rampant factionalism in the state unit.

The result of the recently held by-poll on Hadia assembly seat in the state, in which the BJP nominee could bag only a fraction of the around-3,000 votes cast, reveals the ground realities quite clearly for the saffron party.

Although Modi might get a word of advice from party chief Rajnath Singh, who too hails from UP, the factional feud and leaders against Singh could make things really difficult for Modi, according to state BJP leaders.

“Modi faces a tough challenge in UP. Unlike Gujarat, development does not play a big role in elections here. Hence, Modi will have to play the caste card well in order to reap rich electoral dividends here,” said a senior state BJP leader, speaking to Deccan Herald here.

A section of the party feels that with Modi at the helm, the BJP could rake up the Ram Temple issue once again, and more aggressively, to ensure a polarisation along religious lines.

“It will also suit the Samajwadi Party,” he said. The BJP’s decline in the state has been a continuous story. In 1998 Lok Sabha polls, BJP had won 57 seats, but its tally came down to 29 barely a year later. The party faced a rout in 2004 when it could win only nine seats. The story was more or less the same in 2009 when it bagged only 10 seats.

State party leaders here said that UP was on top of Modi's agenda. After all, the seasoned politician that he is, the importance of a good showing in UP will certainly not be lost on Modi, who clearly nurtures prime-ministerial ambitions.

“Only a good performance in UP can put Modi on the top of the list of claimants for the PM’s post. It could also mitigate any possible loss in Bihar in case Nitish Kumar chooses to quit the NDA,” the leader said.