Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is seriously ill for the past two years, and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who did not canvas in the Bihar polls due to objections from ally JD (U), figure in the BJP’s list of election campaigners.
Mr. Vajpayee’s name is the first in the list of BJP campaigners which the party is sending to the Election Commission for the mandatory approval in connection with the upcoming Assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
The list also sets at rest speculation of Mr. Modi’s participation in the UP election campaign. There were reports that he may keep away as his bête noire and former General Secretary (Organisation) of the BJP, Sanjay Joshi is one of the party’s main election in-charge in UP.
Mr. Modi had stayed away from the last BJP national executive as he was sulking over party president Nitin Gadkari’s decision to bring back Sanjay Joshi into the party.
Mr. Joshi had to leave when a controversial CD had appeared.
Other prominent leaders to campaign in UP for BJP are L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Murli Manohar Joshi. However, they are likely to keep away from those constituencies where tainted candidates like Shakshi Maharaj, Chhatrapal Singh, Bhadshah Singh and Daddan Mishra have been fielded.
These Central leaders had objected to the induction of tainted former Minister in Mayawati government Babu Singh Kushwaha and made it clear that they will not campaign for the tainted candidates.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda will also campaign in UP, along with Bihar Deputy CM Sushil Modi.
The BJP list also consists of former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, General Secretaries Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Narendra Singh Tomar, Deputy Leader of BJP in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, his Rajya Sabha counterpart S S Ahluwalia are among the other star campaigners.
Two prominent Muslim faces of the BJP——Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi—— will also campaign in UP.
Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini, Smriti Irani and Navjyot Singh Sidhu will provide the glamour quotient.
Other BJP leaders who will hit the campaign trail include Kalraj Mishra, Vinay Katiyar, Ramlal, Yashwant Sinha, Uma Bharti, Varun Gandhi, Ramapati Ram Tripathi, Kesarinath Tripathi, Ramnath Kovind, Saudan Singh and Radha Mohan Singh.