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BJP Sets The Ball Rolling For Haryana, Maharashtra Polls

BJP Sets The Ball Rolling For Haryana, Maharashtra Polls

The BJP has set the ball rolling for ensuing elections in Haryana and Maharashtra with the leadership seeking state and district level reports to assess the ground situation, sources said.

Nationalism agenda of the saffron party has come to the fore as an election issue for both the states especially in the wake of the government move to do away with the Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

The party leaders are taking the line that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah (also the Union Home Minister) had given a clear message and a befitting reply to those who were endorsing militancy.

"This will be a major electoral plank and it suits BJP," a source said.

Sources said 'winnaibility' is going to be crucial card and thus the saffron party is keeping cards close to its chest especially in terms of roping in leaders from other parties.

In Maharashtra, there is a hint that senior Congress leader Harshvardhan Patil may jump the ship. Mr Patil is keen for Indapur assembly seat ticket and apparently is unhappy with his party as NCP is eyeing that seat.

In 2014 assembly polls, NCP won the seat trouncing Mr Patil. There is a huge political significance to the development as Indapur assembly constituency falls under Baramati Lok Sabha seat - which is being represented by NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule.

A number of leaders in Maharashtra have changed sides already. Sources said the BJP is working on a plan to keep 150 to 160 seats for itself and spare 110 to 120 for its ally Shiv Sena.

Maharashtra has 288 assembly seats.

However, sources said things are at preliminary stage and leadership in both Sena and BJP will have a series of meetings before taking a final decision on the matter.

Some Sena leaders like Sanjay Raut, a trusted aide of Uddhav Thackeray, are however maintaining that any seat adjustment between Sena and BJP will be on 50-50 basis.

BJP leaders maintain the recent criticism by Sena leaders on country's economic condition and issues of governance in Maharashtra is also aimed only to mount pressure on the Lotus party.

In Haryana, BJP's hardliner agenda vis-a-vis Jammu and Kashmir and aerial strike at Balakot in February would be main electoral plank.

Expectedly, the caste idiom has resurfaced in the Haryana politics as BJP is banking heavily on non-Jat votes.

With former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda made in-charge of Congress poll campaign panel - the thrust of principal opposition party is again going to be Jats.

The Jat quota row and agitation in the past had often put the saffron party on backfoot in last four-five years. Newly-floated Dushyant Chautala led-Jannayak Janata Party and INLD also will be counting on the dominating Jats as their vote bank and thus the competition is expected to be fierce and complex.

According to BJP insiders, the 'split' in Chautala family would only help the saffron party in the long run and thus the contest is expected between it and the Congress party only.

But BJP will have to deal with 'factionalism' in the state of Haryana.

Reports said fierce differences among various camps persist in many rural pockets.

The differences were visible lately local BJP MLA Abhay Singh Yadav is reportedly unhappy with the

dominance of Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh.

Some state-based leaders have complained that Rao Inderjit Singh is busy these days pushing up the case of his family members including daughter Aarti Rao.

"Winnability and performance matter for BJP. In 2014 also, there was strong resistance to Manohar Lal Khattar being given ticket but he became Chief Minister," a source said declining however to comment that Mr Khattar enjoys personal bond with Prime Minister Modi.

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