Tuesday, May 21, 2013

UP in-charge Amit Shah polarises BJP opinion

New Delhi: The appointment of BJP general secretary Amit Shah as Uttar Pradesh in-charge has set off the speculation that it is a reflection of Modi's victory march in the party. But partymen and women are being cautious and correct in interpreting it. Four BJP members of parliament from UP responded to the DNA query as to the advantages and disadvantages of Shah anchoring the BJP poll battle in UP. Those who viewed Shah as an asset were willing to be quoted, while those who had reservations and even critical spoke on condition of anonymity. Senior UP leader of the party and member of Lok Sabha, Lalji Tandon said that Shah as an experienced organisational worker he would strengthen the party in the state. Asked if he would trigger polarisation as it is feared in some quarters, Tandon emphatically rejected the suggestion: “This is an attempt to mislead the minorities.” He also commented, “If minorities were to decide the fate of an election, then there would be no democracy.” Tandon said that Shah is not contesting from UP so there is no controversy about him looking after the party in the state. Aditya Nath, the party's Lok Sabha member from Gorakhpur in the state, was quite categorical that Shah would benefit the party campaign in the parliamentary poll. “He is an experienced organisational worker,” he said. Asked whether Shah is not at a disadvantage because he was not familiar with the state and its political landscape. Aditya Nath said, “There is not much of a difference between Gujarat and UP. Shah is a man with nationalistic commitment and perspective. For such a man, there is no difficulty. As a matter of fact, he would be a catalyst for nationalist sentiment.” For the critics of BJP, “nationalistic” is a euphemism for communalism. Vinay Katiyar, who spearheaded the Ayodhya agitation and who is the party's Rajya Sabha member from the state said nothing more should be read into Shah's appointment to look after the state. He said that someone had to be given the job, and he got it. A Lok Sabha member from the state was not so sanguine about Shah. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said that it was no use raising questions about Shah's value now because they should have been raised when he was made the general secretary of the party. “We wanted to fight the election on the developmental plank. Now with Shah in, the battle will be polarised and the attention will shift.” He was from a different part of the state than the other three. The more stringent criticism came from a senior party functionary, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He felt that there was an attempt to push Shah into a major role in the poll battle, and that he was not like any other general secretary of the party. He drew a parallel with Pramod Mahajan, who was a sheet-anchor of the poll campaign though he was one among the many general secretaries of the party. “He (Shah) cannot ever be like Mahajan.” He argued that Mahajan was not just an able organiser but he was also an able communicator, who kept in touch with the party workers. He felt that Shah was a poor communicator and he would not be able to enthuse party workers. Mahajan, in contrast to Shah, was a warm and outgoing personality and that marked a huge difference. The party functionary felt that this reflected confusion in the party while Congress was quite focused on convening a special session of parliament and pushing through the food security bill. There was a genuine note of unhappiness in his tone.

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