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BJP hunts for a Modi in Uttar Pradesh

December 17, 2002 03:55 IST

The euphoria over the victory in Gujarat has rubbed off on the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Many senior party leaders proclaim that they would repeat the same "victory formula" in the state.

"What we need is a Narendra Modi type of leader to infuse the hindutva fervour among the masses here," several members of the Sangh Parivar said.

Activists of the Bajrang Dal, which was headed by Vinay Katiyar until he assumed the reins of the state BJP leadership last year, raised pro-hindutva slogans as soon as reports of party's landslide victory started pouring in.

Senior BJP leader Kalraj Misra said, "Every time, we have deviated from the hindutva path, the party has suffered a setback. So some rethinking needs to be done."

"I am going to raise this question at the party's next national executive meeting due to be held in New Delhi later this month," he added.

With Modi emerging as hindutva role model, a virtual race seems to be in the offing between the party's frontline leaders to project themselves as a Modi parallel.

"Kalraj Misra has the longest experience of leading the party in UP and he is also a Brahmin, who is ideally suited to don the mantle of a Hindu leader," one of his supporters said.

But the Thakur lobby is reminding people that it was former chief minister Rajnath Singh, who had actively campaigned for the party in Gujarat.

"Singh's contribution to the victory in Gujarat polls cannot be undermined. If he could do it in that state, why couldn't he do it in his home state?" a BJP minister said.

Supporters of Vinay Katiyar, however, do not see anyone else fitting better into the Modi frame.

"It was Katiyar who had played the lead role in the Ayodhya movement. He led bands of karsewaks when the Babri Masjid was first stormed in 1980. He was at the forefront when the mosque was actually pulled down in 1992," state Bajrang Dal chief Ved Prakash Sachan said.

Evidently, the choice is likely to be made from among these three leaders only. Other prominent leaders like Urban Development Minister Lalji Tandon or Irrigation Minister Om Prakash Singh are seen more as "liberals", and therefore not suited to fit the Modi mould.

While none was willing to spell it out in as many words, it was amply visible that what everyone seemed to be missing was the absence of someone like the ousted BJP leader and former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who had emerged as the Ayodhya hero in the last decade.

Singh, who was the state chief minister when the 16th century Babri Mosque was pulled down, has formed his own political outfit, Rashtriya Janata Party, and is trying to project himself as a "moderate" and "secular" leader.


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Read about: Ayodhya Dispute | Madhumita Murder Case


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