The other in-charges for UP are party vice-president Dushyant Gautam and Madhya Pradesh leader Narottam Mishra, who were named among election managers for 17 states.
However, while Zadaphia’s selection was interpreted as an indication that Hindutva themes such as Ram temple could be a significant part of the BJP campaign, he had fallen out with Narendra Modi when the latter was Gujarat CM and was billed to be a Hindutva strongman. He rebelled against Modi and floated ‘Maha Gujarat Janata Party’ for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls but lost to BJP’s Rajendra Singh Rana by 6,000 votes.
He then floated Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti to consolidate fellow Patidars but returned to BJP before the 2014 polls when Modi was declared the PM candidate.
Sources pointed out that party chief Amit Shah, who scripted BJP’s sweep in the 2014 LS elections and followed that up with landslides in state polls, will be the de-facto in-charge of the saffron camp’s preparations in the politically significant UP.
The move also comes within months of senior BJP leader Om Mathur having developed differences with the state unit and recently skipping a crucial state executive meeting in Meerut to chalk out strategy for the polls.
Gautam, a member of BJP’s Scheduled Caste Morcha, has been included to consolidate Dalits to counter the possible SP-BSP tie-up. Gautam hails from the same Jatav sub-caste among Dalits that Mayawati belongs to.
Setting in motion preparations for the 2019 battle, BJP president Amit Shah appointed central in-charges for 17 states. Union minister Prakash Javadekar will remain in charge of Rajasthan and will be assisted by party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, while Thawarchand Gehlot will hold charge of BJP-ruled Uttarakhand. Party general secretaries Bhupender Yadav and Anil Jain will be in charge of Bihar and Chhattisgarh respectively.
Kerala BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member V Muraleedharan and party secretary Sunil Deodhar Rao will be in charge of Andhra. Mahendra Singh and O P Mathur will look after Assam and Gujarat respectively.