Logistics problems for Maharashtra BJP

MUMBAI, SEPT. 14. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra, busy with its election preparations, is trying its best to cope with two distractions — Uma Bharti's `Tiranga Yatra' through Maharashtra and the proposed satyagraha by Sushma Swaraj in Port Blair on September 21 on the Veer Savarkar issue.

Apparently, these two campaigns have been taken up by the national leadership of the party more or less unilaterally and Maharashtra has not had much of a say in planning them. Though the election campaign is not yet in full swing, "critical work remains to be done."

The `Tiranga Yatra' is pulling out key leaders from their assigned roles in the poll campaign. Gopinath Munde, the State chief of the party, for instance, had to charter a flight to Solapur to receive Ms. Bharti at Umarga. He had to be present the next day at the Election Committee meeting in Mumbai, which also required the attendance of Nitin Gadkari, the BJP's Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council. So Ms. Bharti had to depend on the local organisation.

A party source said, "It has everything to do with logistics." Party MPs are being told in no uncertain terms that they should be participate in the Andamans satyagraha despite any poll-related commitments in the State. Maharashtra, seen as a beneficiary of the Savarkar issue could not be seen as keeping itself out of it.

`Yatra not ignored'

Given the distance and the expensive air travel, to Andamans, the BJP is unable to send the usual contingent of party functionaries. Since Ms. Swaraj is to lead a satyagraha of MPs, they are being told that "they should make it," a party official said. The MPs have been explaining to their leaders their difficulties. Pramod Mahajan, who is in charge of party affairs for the elections in Maharashtra, said the Yatra was "not being ignored."

The national flag and the Savarkar issues "are important national issues and the party has taken it up.

In Maharashtra, the campaign and its route have come as a remarkable coincidence. No doubt, there would be some gains because of it, but we are not looking at it from the perspective of the elections.

"Essentially, the elections are going to be fought on issues of viability of farming by enabling free power and reducing the burden of loans on farmers, their suicides, malnutrition deaths of tribal children."

After she touches Jallianwala Bagh towards the end of the month, Ms. Bharati as well as Ms. Swaraj would be drafted for specific, more focussed campaigning in Maharashtra, party sources said.

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