UP Polls: BJP pulls out all the stops for Pankaj Singh in Noida
In a two-pronged strategy, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leadership has gone the whole hog to campaign for its Noida candidate, Pankaj Singh, son of union home minister, Rajnath Singh.
In contrast, the Samajwadi Party (SP) did not have any star campaigners in Noida, while the Congress and BSP roped in only one-two leaders each.
The BJP, to keep its flock together after nominating ‘outsider’ Pankaj in Noida, leaders of the disgruntled cadres, from their caste and region, moved to placate them in election rallies and campaigns. They also wooed the urban voters with several promises of development.
Though sitting MLA Vimla Batham has also supported Pankaj, her supporters were upset. A few others who were aspiring for a ticket had threatened to quit the party after Pankaj was given the ticket.
Two-time former MLA from Dadri Nawab Singh Nagar, who was ready to jump in the fray on a BJP ticket even from Noida, was among those unhappy on being denied a ticket.
One BJP leader is also contesting as an independent candidate. However, he extended support to the official BJP candidate at party president Amit Shah’s rally on February 5.
BJP president Amit Shah, state BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya, union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, minister of law and justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, power minister Piyush Goyal, minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises Babul Supriyo, minister of state for human resource development Mahendra Nath Pandey, former Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank”, MP Kirron Kher and MP Udit Raj have visited Noida to campaign for Pankaj Singh.
The party has succeeded not only in pacifying disgruntled members but also making them actively participate in the campaign. The campaign by senior leaders has helped BJP connect with the representatives of various regions and communities from across the country who are living in Noida.
However, Pankaj’s father, Rajnath Singh, did not visit Noida, despite visiting Bisada (Dadri) on Wednesday and Rabupura (Jewar) on Thursday. “It was decided that Rajnath ji would not campaign in Noida. However, we roped in several senior party leaders, central ministers and MPs from various backgrounds. This has boosted the morale of the party workers and helped in consolidating the votes from various communities,” said Manish Sharma, BJP’s media in-charge for the district.
A majority of the visiting BJP leaders addressed a gathering of not more than a few hundred at the auditorium of Kailash Hospital. Meetings of Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nishank were held at other places, but with a limited gathering. Only Shah held a public rally, while North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, held a road show in Noida on Thursday, the last day of campaigning.
“Due to the strict expenditure cap put in place by the Election Commission, we decided to hold a workers’ meet and bring in people from various communities. The press coverage of their visits helped us in sending our message to these communities as well as the public that the BJP in Noida is not a divided house,” a party functionary from Noida said.
He added that Delhi’s proximity to Noida made it possible for ministers to campaign for Pankaj. The other major contenders in Noida are Sunil Choudhary of the SP-Congress alliance and BSP’s Ravikant Mishra.
For BSP, only the party general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui held a rally at Sector 39 community centre on January 24. BSP national general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra was to hold a public rally in Sector 43 on Wednesday but the programme was cancelled.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad held a rally at Dadri and UP state Congress president Raj Babbar also held a road show in Dadri.
However, Samajwadi Party failed to attract any star campaigner in Noida, including Akhilesh Yadav, due to it being ‘jinxed’ for chief ministers. “We had sent a request for Dimple ji (Akhilesh’s wife) to campaign in Noida but she could not make it. Our party leader Surender Nagar held a road show on Thursday,” Raghvendra Dubey, SP media head for the district, said.