BJP to line up regional satraps in Gujarat, Himachal

BJP to line up regional satraps in Gujarat, Himachal

Under pressure in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the BJP top brass is getting regional satraps to extend a helping hand in the two poll-bound states.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his ministerial colleague Swatantradev Singh, Uttarakhand ministers Satpal Maharaj and Madan Kaushik and former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank have been asked to campaign in Gujarat.

The BJP is seeking reinforcements from other states, apart from its central leaders and Union ministers taking turns to assist the party in Gujarat.

Maharaj, Uttarakhand tourism minister, is the second religious head-turned-politician after Adityanath to be invited by the BJP top leadership to assist in campaigning.

A source said Maharaj has been asked to spend at least a fortnight in Gujarat, given the outreach he has among the people who follow his organisation, Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti.

Electoral managers are also tapping BJP chief ministers and ministers from other states. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje addressed a rally in Banaskantha on October 12.

The change in strategy also underlines that the party, for the first time, is sweating it out to retain power.

Since the 2002 Assembly elections, campaigning has revolved around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the then chief minister of Gujarat.

With the economic slowdown, traders' unhappiness over demonetisation and GST and the Patel disenchantment, the BJP is micromanaging 182 constituencies to the last detail as it has set a 150-plus seat target in Gujarat.

Similarly, in Himachal Pradesh, which according to a source, is less competitive than Gujarat, the BJP is in the process of drawing up a list of campaigners.

PM in Guj today
On Sunday, Modi will make his 19th trip to his home state of Gujarat after taking over the reins at the Centre. This would also be his third visit in October.

The prime minister will arrive in Bhavnagar district (Saurashtra region), where he would inaugurate the first phase of the Rs 615-crore ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar and Dahej in Bharuch district across the Gulf of Khambhat. Modi will travel aboard the ferry along with schoolchildren.

The service, which has been hanging fire since 1995, was first conceived in the early 1960s. The foundation stone for the works was laid by Modi in 2012 when he was the chief minister.

The facility is expected to reduce the travel distance between Saurashtra and South Gujarat by 360 km. Most of the people who work in the diamond and textile hub of Surat come from the Saurashtra region.

On his arrival at Dahej, Modi will travel to Vadodara, where he is scheduled to address a rally. He will then lay foundation stones and inaugurate projects worth Rs 1,140 crore, before undertaking a 14-km roadshow.

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