BJP banks on star campaigners to win Nagaland polls

February 21st, 2008 - 9:23 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking as much on its celebrity parliamentarians as on its allies and on the perceived discontent against president’s rule in Nagaland to win the assembly polls in the northeastern state next month. “Film stars and BJP MPs Shatrughan Sinha and Hema Malini will campaign in Nagaland. Former cricketer and MP Navjot Singh Sidhu will also join the BJP campaign to get votes for the party,” BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh told IANS.

Siddharth Nath Singh is coordinating the BJP campaign with Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP general secretary who is in-charge of Nagaland.

The party is hopeful that the three MPs will be major crowd-pullers and also win them votes.

Senior BJP leaders, including party president Rajnath Singh and general secretaries M. Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley, will also address public rallies in the state. Sushma Swaraj, who is spearheading the BJP campaign on the women’s reservation bill, will make her presence felt too.

The BJP was part of the coalition that ruled the state before the central government imposed president’s rule Jan 3.

Though the BJP had only seven legislators in the 60-member Nagaland assembly, it was part of the coalition called the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) that also included the National People’s Front (NPF), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and independents.

Neiphiu Rio of NPF, which had 19 legislators, led the 37-member coalition.

While the BJP’s chances of a victory may be nebulous, the party is optimistic about coming back to power.

“Don’t forget that though we had only seven MLAs in the last assembly, two of them were ministers while one had the cabinet rank in the Neiphiu Rio government. We hope to come back to power in this poll with the help of our alliance partners,” said Rudy.

The DAN coalition is also banking on a possible sympathy factor as it is going to voters, presenting itself as a victim of the central government’s ‘high-handedness’ in imposing president’s rule, barely a couple of months before the assembly polls scheduled for March 5.

The central government was acting on the basis of the governor’s report that said the DAN did not enjoy a majority in the assembly as some of its constituents had withdrawn support.

Another issue high on the DAN agenda is alleged disruption of the ceasefire and the ongoing peace process in Nagaland with rebel outfits due to imposition of president’s rule.

DAN leaders are also highlighting under-development of the region and the central government’s alleged apathy towards Nagaland.

The BJP believes more voters will support it, seeing it as the party that will lead the next government in New Delhi after the general election in 2009.

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