Gujarat civic polls: BJP takes lead in initial counting, AAP yet to open its account

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The BJP’s Punjab campaign is yet to take off, although the party has begun groundwork in most of the other poll-bound states. The panel led by Union minster Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tasked with the job of handling Punjab elections hasn’t yet visited the state, as BJP leaders continue to search for strategies.

The panels of ministers for other poll-bound states like Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Uttarakhand have completed at least one round of ground visits. While there has been a death in the family of Shekhawat recently, which is seen as a reason for the ministers not visiting the state, the BJP continues to face the heat in Punjab due to the farmers’ agitation, which seemingly gained further momentum after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in Uttar Pradesh.

“There was a death in the family of the one of the ministers who has to coordinate with other co-members in his group. But BJP has held at least five meetings in the national capital on Punjab elections. The party is working overtime to prepare to contest in all the Assembly seats in Punjab,” said a senior BJP functionary.

Unlike Punjab, the Dharmendra Pradhan-led panel for Uttar Pradesh recently completed a visit to the state where the ministers in charge of the polls held deliberations with the party leaders, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Union minister and senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav has also been to the poll-bound Manipur. Union minister Pralhad Joshi and other members of his team have visited Uttarakhand. Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was the first to start the poll campaign by visiting Goa, where BJP runs the government.

Besides Shekhawat, Hardeep Singh Puri and Meenakshi Lekhi are the other ministers who have been assigned the poll task in Punjab by BJP’s national president JP Nadda.  The Lakhimpur Kheri incident has also apparently made the BJP think about a possible role for former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in the upcoming elections. The BJP leaders continue to maintain that the doors of the party are open for ‘all nationalist leaders, including Singh’.