To work toward strengthening the party’s foundation in State

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary incharge of Uttar Pradesh, Amit Shah, began his stint by reading out Gujarat Chief Minister and 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign manager Narendra Modi’s brief to party office-bearers on Wednesday to gear up the party for the electoral battle in the State. Mr. Shah held two rounds of meetings with the office-bearers and heads of frontal organisations. He was accompanied by co-incharge, Rameshwar Chaurasia and Satyendra Kushwaha.

Apart from getting feedback on the political situation in the State, he also secured information on the party’s organisational structure.

Mr. Modi’s ambitious project of building a mammoth statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel on Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat was one of the key issues discussed in the meeting. According to the State unit chief of BJP, Laxmikant Bajpai, the leaders and workers of the party have been asked to collect half a kilogram of iron from each village, which would be melted in Gujarat and used in the statue. To be built on the lines of Statue of Liberty, it would be called the “Statue of Unity” and would be visible from a distance of 50 kilometres.

Mr. Bajpai, who briefed the media on the outcome of the meeting, said that the idea behind the move was to include farmers in the statue-building exercise, even as the other parties followed the “Muslim appeasement” policy. He said the iron collection would begin on October 31 (Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary) and conclude on January 26, 2014. He also said the decision of the building of the statue was taken at the Goa national executive meet and its announcement was made by Mr. Modi in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.

Among the other programmes finalised in the meeting was the BJP’s jail bharo agitation against the policies of the Central Government. Mr. Bajpai said the jail bharo stir in U.P. will be held on June 26 at all the district headquarters. The jail bharo will coincide with the imposition of Emergency in 1975.

The U.P. BJP president said each worker had been asked to adopt one polling booth during the Lok Sabha election and the candidates for the poll would have to abide by the guidelines of the party organisation.

He evaded a question on the possibility of Mr. Modi contesting the election from Lucknow.

Mr. Shah, in Lucknow for a two-day visit, told journalists at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport on Wednesday that he was hopeful of the NDA winning the next Lok Sabha election and the strengthening of the party’s foundation in U.P.

Tackling factionalism

With the State unit of the BJP divided into several camps and factionalism proving to be its bane, the foremost task before the party incharge would be forging unity among the BJP leaders and their camp followers. Mr. Shah met former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh at the latter’s residence on Wednesday and followed it up with a meeting with senior leader and Lucknow MP, Lalji Tandon. Mr. Shah is scheduled to meet Kalraj Mishra on Thursday.

At present the party has 10 MPs from the State, marginally better than the count of nine MPs in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll. The party is yet to declare its candidates for 2014.