Assembly Elections: 3 states done, BJP focuses on next 3
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Buoyed by victories in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, it looks at 156 LS seats of UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka as key to 2014
Firmly entrenched in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the BJP is looking at another set of three states that it believes holds the key to realising its Lok Sabha hopes for 2014.
"Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka are make or break for our 2014 dreams," stressed a BJP functionary considered close to prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, speaking to The Indian Express days after the party won the assembly elections in the first three states.
Not among the big targets is Bihar, which has 40 Lok Sabha seats and saw a bitter parting of ways with the JD(U). "Repeating or marginally bettering our tally without JD(U) support will be good enough, while larger gains will be a bonus," said the party leader. The BJP holds 12 seats out of the 15 it contested while in the alliance.
In the states won, the BJP is banking on recent trends that have seen the party winning assembly polls frequently bagging most of that state's Lok Sabha seats, too. It is confident the leadership of Raman Singh, Shivraj Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje will take the burden off the central leadership.
These three states account for only 65 Lok Sabha seats while UP, Maharashtra and Karnataka have 156. The BJP faces a Congress that has been holding its ground in Maharashtra and Karnataka and gained some in Uttar Pradesh in the last Lok Sabha polls.
It is the obvious focus given its 80 seats. The BJP's first stint at power in New Delhi in 1996 had hinged on a robust performance in this state, though from 57 seats in 1998 (undivided UP) it slipped to 29 in 1999 following a rebellion by Kalyan Singh — who has since merged his party into the BJP. Close Modi aide Amit Shah, given charge of UP, has been consulting Kalyan on strategies to revive the party. Part of the strategy is nine mega rallies across regions by Modi, who has already held four and is slated to undertake three more and wind up in Lucknow before February-end when the actual campaign begins. Shah too has been touring the state and plans to visit at least 52 constituencies to put a setup in place. He has set the state organisation a target of 1.25 lakh booth committees.
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