Amit Shah Appointed As Chief Strategist For BJP' UP Polls

Amit Shah; Congress

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been informally appointed aschief strategist for BJP's Uttar Pradesh Assembly Polls, according to the reports of The Telegraph India.

Shah was BJP president and chief strategist during the last Assembly polls in the politically crucial state in 2017, when the BJP swept over 300 of the Assembly's 403 seats. However, the BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in Bengal last summer under his stewardship of the campaign.

Shah appointed as in-charge, again means the "top leadership" — an allusion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — wants to take "full control" of poll management and not allow chief minister Yogi Adityanath to call the shots, sources of The Telegraph said.

Until now three ministers and seven MLAs from the crucial OBC communities have recently quitted the party ahead of polls. After accusing Adityanath of failing to cooperate with them and discriminating against the backward classes and Dalits, they have joined the opposition, which is tough competitor of BJP, i.e. Samajwadi Party. This has caused alarm within the BJP leadership.

Modi has a huge stake in this Uttar Pradesh election, not just because he is an MP from the state (Varanasi) but also because this Assembly contest is widely being seen as a dress rehearsal for the 2024 general election.

"Amit Shah is back in control like the time he was BJP president. He has been holding late-night strategy sessions at the party office," a BJP politician said.

Shah is handling candidate selection and seat-sharing with the allies, and is likely to visit Uttar Pradesh and address a series of rallies starting later this month, sources said.

Shah's rising influence means a consequent reduction in clout for Adityanath, who had been trying to position himself as Modi's possible political successor. The "top leadership" has already denied Adityanath his wish to contest from Ayodhya.

Party insiders said the effort would now be to project Modi as the BJP's mascot for the Uttar Pradesh polls. "The underlying message is that if the party retains power in Uttar Pradesh, the credit should go to Modi-Shah and not Yogi," a BJP old-timer said.

On Monday, Adityanath and state BJP president Swatantra Dev were in Delhi to receive instructions from the central leadership. The chief minister and other state BJP leaders have spent a lot of time in Delhi since last week.

Party leaders said the central leadership had till last month been confident of an easy victory in Uttar Pradesh. "But the recent developments (the exodus of OBC leaders) have alarmed the central leaders. They don't want to take any chances," a BJP leader said.

Sources said Adityanath had assured the top leadership that he would comfortably retain the state.

Although Shah commands a reputation in the BJP as an "election-winning machine", the party has lost key elections with him at the helm. Among these are Delhi and Bihar in 2015, and Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh a year before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.


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