With less than five months to go for Assembly polls in five states, BJP has got cracking with the appointment of senior ministers as election in-charges. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will handle the party’s strategy and campaign of Uttar Pradesh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi of Uttarakhand, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat of Punjab and Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav of Manipur.
Pradhan has handled the BJP campaign as election in-charge in the last Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, where the party was facing a tough challenge from Kamal Nath led Congress, and other states in the past. He has also been in-charge of politically important states like Karnataka and Bihar as a general secretary and is well-versed in organizational matters. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, Ministers of State Arjun Ram Meghwal, Shoba Karandlaje and Annpurna Devi, Rajya Sabha MPs Saroj Pande and Vivek Thakur, and Haryana Minister Capt Abhimanyu have been made co-incharge.
BJP has also appointed in-charges for the six regions of UP. These are Sanjay Bhatia (UP West), Sanjeev Chaurasia (Braj), Y Satya Kumar (Awadh), Sudhir Gupta (Kanpur) Arvind Menon (Gorakhpur) and Sunil Ojha (Kashi).
Pralhad Joshi will have to handle not just party squabbles in the Uttarakhand unit, where BJP has several chief ministerial contenders, but also face a resurgent Congress under Harish Rawat. The fact that BJP had to change its chief minister twice in these five years has not gone down well with the voters. Moreover, in the hill state which usually alternates between BJP and Congress in elections the saffron party is said to be facing a strong anti-incumbency. BJP had also poached several senior Congress leaders, leading to resentment among its cadre.
West Bengal MP Locket Chatterjee and party spokesperson RP Singh will be co-incharge.
Though BJP does not have any high electoral prospects in Punjab, this is the first election where it would be fighting alone as long-time ally Shiromani Akali Dal has walked out of the NDA on the farm laws. The farmers agitation has caused a lot of anger against BJP in the state. As election in-charge, Shekhawat will have to find good candidates for the party and enthuse the rank and file to put up a good show. BJP faces an uphill task with Congress and SAD ahead of it and AAP trying to increase its political footprint.
Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Meenakshi Lekhi as well as Lok Sabha MP Vinod Chawda have been made co-incharge.
Yadav is known as a good election strategist and will have his task cut out to get a second consecutive term for BJP in Manipur where N Biren Singh heads the government.
( Originally published on Sep 08, 2021 )