New Delhi, (IANS) Ailing former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are among the star campaigners for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Even though Vajpayee is ailing and barely able to get up from his bed, the former prime minister, who is one the most charismatic leaders of the party, has been listed the first among the party campaigners in the two states.
The list, which has been sent to the Election Commission for approval, also features the name of Modi. A star campaigner for the party, he was last year kept out of campaigning in Bihar after ally Janata Dal-United objected due to his communal image.
Modi had also kept away from the party’s national executive meet, and was reportedly also upset with party leader L.K. Advani for launching his anti-corruption ‘yatra’ from Bihar instead of Gujarat, from where the octogenerian leader has been elected to the Lok Sabha.
There were speculations of Modi staying away from Uttar Pradesh since Sanjay Joshi, a party worker from Gujarat who was suspended and then re-admitted to the party, is one of the main in-charges of the state. Joshi was thrown out of the BJP after a sleaze CD involving him was released.
According to a highly place party source, however, Modi’s appearance would be at very selective places, if at all, in Uttar Pradesh.
“In few places, like Ayodhya, Modi will be the choice, but not at all places,” the source said.
The other key campaigners are Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi.
Other names include Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi.
Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, general secretaries Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Narendra Singh Tomar, deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde, and his Rajya Sabha counterpart S.S. Ahluwalia also figure in the list.
Among the minority campaigners are prominent Muslim faces of BJP –Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
From Bollywood and sports, there will be Shatrughan Sinha, Hema Malini, Smriti Irani and Navjyot Singh Sidhu.
Others the BJP will field for campaigning include Kalraj Mishra, Vinay Katiyar, Ramlal, Yashwant Sinha, Uma Bharti, Varun Gandhi, Ramapati Ram Tripathi, Kesarinath Tripathi, Ramnath Kovind, Saudan Singh and Radha Mohan Singh.