BJP MP Varun Gandhi and its former Uttar Pradesh unit president Vinay Katiyar are missing from the party’s list of star campaigners for the first two phases of the state assembly polls.
Names of BJP veterans like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who is a Lok Sabha member from the state, also do not figure in the list of 40 star campaigners, that include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, Home Minister Rajnath Singh besides a number of state leaders like Yogi Adityanath, Uma Bharti, Sanjeev Balyan and Kalraj Mishra.
Varun Gandhi’s mother Maneka Gandhi is also among the star campaigners. Varun had fallen out of favour with Modi after his reported comments during Lok Sabha campaign in 2014 on poor attendance in the latter’s rally in Kolkata.
Speaking to a journalist Varun had reportedly said that only 50 thousands people had turned up at Modi’s rally in Kolkata. The ground Modi addressed his rally has the capacity to fill 15 lakh people.
Advani and Joshi were among those few leaders who had demanded the fixing of accountability for the saffron party’s humiliating defeat in Bihar elections. This was deemed as the biggest revolt against Modi since his election as India’s prime minister in May 2014.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s name too is not in the list.
The other names include Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mahesh Sharma, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, a BJP ally, Hema Malini and V K Singh.
The list also include names of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.
Swami Prasad Maurya, who left BSP to join BJP, has also been included among the key campaigners.
The first phase of UP Assembly polls will be held on February 11 while the second phase will commence from February 15. The first two phases cover mostly the western UP. Five remaining phases will be held on February 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
(With PTI inputs)