BJP hinges hopes on PM choice for 2019

BJP hinges hopes on PM choice for 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo

As the BJP grapples with the possibility of huge reverses in the Hindi heartland states in 2019, it is betting high on states like West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, the Northeast and Tamil Nadu.

The party, which has very low vote base in these states, thinks that the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will be fought on the issue of who will be the prime minister and as campaigning picks up, it will gain because of having a clear face to lead the next government.

Scotching speculation about the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi changing his Parliamentary seat in 2019, a top functionary in the BJP made it clear that Modi will be contesting from the same seat but remained non-committal on whether he will again contest from the second seat in Gujarat as he did the last time.

“Why there are other states also like West Bengal and Odisha,” a party functionary said but made it clear that there is no decision on this yet. Earlier there were speculations that as Modi contested from Varanasi in 2014 to galvanise the BJP in eastern Uttar Pradesh, he may choose another pilgrimage centre this time.

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Hoping for high gains in Mamata Banerjee-ruled West Bengal, where of late it has found some traction in urban areas and upper caste voters, in particular on its Hindutva plank, the BJP will hold 310 rallies in the run-up to Lok Sabha election, which will conclude with a rally addressed by Modi on April 1.

“West Bengal is the top priority for the party,” said a BJP functionary. In Odisha, where the BJP performed exceedingly well in 2017 Panchayat elections and appeared like it was consuming the Congress' space, there has been a buzz that Modi may choose Puri as his second seat to contest to give an upswing to the BJP in the state.

The party is hopeful of a “rainbow alliance” in Tamil Nadu and cites the example of the Left bastion of Tripura where it came to power in the 2018 Assembly polls despite having a minuscule base.

“Moreover, 2019 is not an election to elect a CM. As campaigning picks up, you will see leadership becoming the key issue. 2019 will be the first poll of performance and it will be against caste politics, Muslim appeasement and dynasty politics”, the functionary said.

Despite the citizenship bill issue creating unrest among NDA’s allies in the Northeast, the party functionary felt that it will be able to allay their apprehensions and the NDA will perform well in that region.

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