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BJP to bank on hotshot celebrities to counter Priyanka Gandhi effect on 2019 polls

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BJP to bank on hotshot celebrities to counter Priyanka Gandhi effect on 2019 polls

Before the last week’s unfortunate events in Jammu and Kashmir it was the advent of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in active politics that bothered the Bharatiya Janata Party too much. So much so that the looming general elections had sent the ruling party higher ups to the drawing board to redraw the party’s electoral strategy mainly because of Priyanka.

This was the case until only days before the ghastly carnage of over 40 paramilitary personnel in Kashmir in a suicide attack and may well continue to be so once the crisis brought by the Kashmir incident is blown over by a possible action against its perpetrators and handlers.

Anyway before the crisis struck, the BJP was staring at possible loss of a substantial number of parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh because of the coming together of Samajawadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party amid anti-BJP sentiments likely to be created by Priyanka in not only Uttar Pradesh but also elsewhere in the Hindi belt. And, thus, the party started toying up with the idea to make a few “stunning” moves which may now take some more time to unfold because of the tragedy in Jammu and Kashmir.

The new moves were meant to not only fox the party’s rivals and opponents but also possibly make up and offset any loss of Lok Sabha seats in its bastions built through the last polls, or in 2014. And, thus, keep the final and overall tally of the party in 2019 polls in the range where a second tryst with power is not missed.

As per this strategy which is still in making the BJP will possibly try and field about 40 odd hotshot celebrities in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The party insiders point to names like Gautam Gambhir, Moushumi Chattrjee, Akshay Kumar, Locket Chatterjee and Roopa Ganguly as likely choices among many others for candidature in the forthcoming polls.

Though the step is not entirely new since in the past a VVIP like former Army Chief General VK Singh and TV serial star of yesteryears Smriti Irani were given party tickets besides a few other prominent faces from bureaucracy and other fields, this time its scale is expected to be far greater.

Other than cricketers, or sportspersons, and film stars, some of the distinguished scientists are expected to be included in the list of BJP candidates. One or two cult, or religious, leaders can also find a place in the list.

Most of these candidates are to be sent to try their luck from constituencies that have never before been won by the BJP, say the party sources. This is clearly to ensure that in hoisting new faces with formidable name and fame the party could only gain and add up to its number of MPs without taking any risk, or annoying any of the potential winners from the party’s stable of old guards .

The main idea behind the move is to hog the limelight for the party via the celebrities and preempt any possible loss of visibility through media because of new developments in UP, Congress and other rival parties.

The new plan is said to be a brainchild of the BJP president Amit Shah and the party has tasked this to be overseen and executed by its Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekhar and general secretary Kailash Vijayvarigya.

Besides bringing in quite a few stars and superstars to the contest, the BJP is also tinkering with the idea to tap vast coastal belt to improve its presence in the new Lok Sabha though this has been a hitherto undefined territory from the electoral point of view. The party has identified as many as 68 parliamentary constituencies spread through the coastal belt and across several States from Bengal to Tamil Nadu on the one hand and from Gujarat to Kerala on the other.

This new exercise in electoral cartography is aimed to make coastal belt distinct from the rest of the country. And it is being attempted by the BJP poll strategists to make and treat the belt as the second largest chunk of Lok Sabha seats and a virtual new and largest province after Uttar Pradesh. More so since UP has not only 80 constituencies but also gave 73 members of Parliament to the NDA, or National Democratic Alliance, with the BJP having a lion’s share of 70 seats from UP in the last Lok Sabha polls.

As for the party’s erstwhile strongholds the BJP is again banking on stirring up support by going to the beneficiaries of various Government schemes. The beneficiaries are called as Labharthi in party’s parlance. All of them are to be told by the BJP high-command to fly party’s lotus emblazoned saffron flags atop the roofs of their abode to flaunt its sway and create hype in party’s favour through the run-up to the next polls.

Abid Shah is a freelance writer and journalist based in Delhi.

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