BJP revamp: Kalraj to head UP unit
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After many a false start, the BJP leadership has decided to go for an organisational revamp in the electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh with party veteran Kalraj Mishra set to replace Rampati Ram Tripathi as the state unit president and K C Pant, chairman of the Planning Commission during the NDA regime, as a top contender to replace the ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the Lucknow parliamentary seat elections in 2009.
Given the salience of caste combinations in UP, the BJP electoral tie-up with Ajit Singh's RLD also appears to be on the cards with the former planning to give seven seats to the Jat leader, possibly including the Mathura seat to his son, in a bid to present a formidable upper caste-Jat-non-Yadav OBC alliance in western UP in the coming parliamentary elections. This caste combination, the BJP believes, would be a good counter to Mayawati's Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin projection and the Congress-Samajwadi Party tie-up at least in the western part of the state. The electoral mathematics of western UP at present is such that the BJP without a prominent ally would in all probability face a rout.
On Wednesday evening, BJP's prime ministerial aspirant L K Advani met former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh and discussed the future of the party in the state. It is understood that Kalyan Singh, who continues to hold sway over the Lodh vote, gave his assent to working with Kalraj Mishra and agreed to be more electorally pro-active in the state in the coming days. Mishra, who is currently the party prabhari in Bihar, will replace Tripathi, who is seen largely as a non-performer by the top leadership. Tripathi took over as state unit chief in September 2007.
The meeting between Advani and Kalyan Singh itself was a breakthrough as the latter has been virtually sidelined by the party as a spent force. However, Advani apparently urged him to make an electoral push for the party in western UP. The much-awaited revamp has been done as the party leadership believes that it would have to cross the figure of 25 parliamentary seats in UP if it wants to stake claim to the next Government at the Centre. At the heart of this rejig is also the cold prospect of the BSP and Congress-SP sharing the UP electoral spoils with the BJP lagging far behind in the next general elections.
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