New Delhi, January 19
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president JP Nadda and senior ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari will lead the party’s campaign for the crucial phase-1 elections in Uttar Pradesh on February 10 with 58 segments of western UP set to go to polls.
Missing from the list of 30 star campaigners are former Women and Child Development Minister and Sultanpur MP Maneka Gandhi, her son Varun (Pilibhit MP) and Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, the MP from Kheri.
Mishra has remained in the eye of storm ever since violence struck his Lok Sabha segment Lakhimpur on October 3, 2021, killing eight persons, including four farmers and a journalist. With the recent filing of charges of murder and pre-planned conspiracy against Mishra’s son Ashish, demands for his resignation have grown.
The absence of Mishra from the BJP’s first list of star campaigners signals the party’s urge to escape the wrath of farmers, especially in western UP, where the movement against three farm laws was led by Jats and BKU’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait took the lead. Tikait hails from Sisauli in Muzaffarnagar, which goes to polls in phase-1.
Western UP remains a challenge for the BJP, which had swept 51 of 71 seats here in 2017. BJP’s troubles have grown after Jat-dominated khaps tacitly resolved to back the SP-RLD alliance in the area, even though Rakesh Tikait publicly vowed to remain.
Equally significant is the absence of Maneka and Varun with the latter taking repeated public positions favouring farmers in the aftermath of Lakhimpur violence. The mother-son duo hail from LS segments in Terai area where Sikhs are dominant. All farmers killed in the Kheri incident were Sikhs.
Nadda, Irani, Rajnath on 30-member list
PM Modi, BJP chief JP Nadda, Ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani; UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Deputy CMs Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, Sanjeev Balyan, Hema Malini and Gen VK Singh are among those on list
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