LUCKNOW: As Opposition parties including Congress have begun to send Delhi leaders to parts of Uttar Pradesh to intensify campaigning to dethrone the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the UP 2022 elections, the saffron outfit has decided to make a public spectacle of its unity and membership drive in Lucknow more frequently.
On Friday, Shah decided to sleep in Lucknow in a tiny room on the first floor of BJP’s office on the bustling Vidhan Sabha Marg next to Atal Behari Vajpayee’s larger—than-life statue, the same place from where he changed fortunes for the saffron party in 2013 as BJP’s then organisational in-charge for UP ahead of Lok Sabha polls. This after he held back to back addresses over a campaign: Mera Parivar, BJP parivar(My family, BJP family) first at Defence Expo ground, then Indira Gandhi Pratishthan and later at BJP office.
It was here at this very office that Shah had created his own four-member core team — Sunil Bansal (then a RSS pracharak) , Mahendra Singh (now MLC and minister), Ratnakar and Sanjeev Singh (a national co-convener of BJP IT cell) and a strong ABVP-cadre — in 2013 that was tasked to work parallely to state BJP executive.
As Shah first addressed workers at Defence Expo ground in Lucknow, he sought to put all past differences to rest, rallying behind incumbent CM Yogi Adityanath while saying that if PM Narendra Modi has to win in 2024, the win in 2022 elections is the only route.
“No survey agency or NGO make BJP’s manifesto. We are glad that Yogi ji has fulfilled 90% of his promises and he will yearn to complete the other 10 % as well. We must work to bring Yogi ji back if we have to see PM Modi in 2024 again,” Shah said.
The Gujarat strongman sought to put thrust on reaching out to families who supported BJP in 2014, 2017 and 2019 till now through this membership drive, giving a rough estimate that 86 lakh workers were leading the party’s effort to ensure they display their pledge to be with them.
Shah struck a balance in being effusive in his praise on how both the party organisation led by Bansal as well as UP government headed by Yogi.
At each place he went to, if he took along Bansal, Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Anurag Thakur, Arjun Meghwal, Shobha Karandlaje, he also ensured equal space for UP CM Yogi Adityanath, deputy CMs Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma.
He did not refrain from attacking SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, invoking the benefits of policing during the current BJP regime to eliminate the mafia that once dominated the political system five years ago.
“There used to be very big 2-3 Bahubalis (dons) in every district of UP during previous regimes. Now there are none. 150 such dons got eliminated in police operations,” Shah said, in a direct message to critics who once questioned Yogi’s encounter policy.
He said UP has jumped to second spot in ease of doing business, from the 14th earlier, with its annual budget size doubling to 21.31 lakh crore from previous 10 lakh crore.
“Not just this, Yogi government has increased medical infrastructure from 10 to 30 medical colleges in UP from the SP regime; from 1500 to 4,000 medical seats, from four to 9 big airports and five expressways instead of just two. That’s indication of the volume of work we are doing,” Shah said.
He further took potshots at Akhilesh, saying “Those who remained at home for five years have now got new clothes stitched and are claiming to return to power. I want to ask Akhilesh Babu, how many days did he spend abroad in these years. Where was he when UP faced Covid and then the floods,” Shah asked.
“Such people only run their government for their family and their caste, unlike Yogi Adityanath’s government which is formed to serve all.”
Shah set a 300-plus target for BJP in 2022 elections.
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