" Former Congress general secretary Birender Singh, considered an influential leader from the Jat community, joined the party at Jind Saturday."
By Prashant Sood

New Delhi, Aug 17 - Sensing its best chance to come to power in Haryana on its own strength, the Bharatiya Janata Party has put its might behind its assembly election campaign with party president Amit Shah addressing two rallies in the state in three days and union ministers visiting constituencies to ramp up support.

Amit Shah's rallies in the state have seen several leaders from other parties joining the BJP. Party sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a rally at Kaithal Aug 19.

The sources said that the party was working at three levels as part of preparations for assembly polls - strengthening organisational base, reaching out to people, and bringing synergy in election effort through various committees.

They said that union ministers have begun spending a day in a constituency and are holding meetings with the party rank and file to boost their morale as also to bolster the party's booth management.

A party leader said that union ministers have been asked to visit two-three assembly constituencies each in the state.

Such meetings boost the morale of the workers as they can pose their problems to the ministers. It also adds to their esteem, a party leader said.

The union ministers who have already visited the state include Rao Inderjit Singh, Krishan Pal Gujjar, Kalraj Mishra and Radha Mohan Singh.

As part of its campaign to reach out to people, the BJP has planned four yatras (marches) from different parts of the state.

The party has also set up committees for coordination of tasks such as publicity and manifesto.

Jagdish Mukhi, who is in charge of the party's affairs in Haryana, said that atmosphere in the state was in favour of the BJP.

BJP will definitely form the government in Haryana, Mukhi told IANS.

He also said that the BJP was getting support from all sections.

The BJP won seven of the eight seats it contested in the state in the Lok Sabha polls and has been optimistic about its chances in the state assembly polls it has never won on its own.

In the past, the BJP has been a junior partner in ruling alliances led by the Indian National Lok Dal and Haryana Vikas Party.

Spurred by its performance in the Lok Sabha polls, the party has now demanded a review of its alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress which lost both the seats it contested in the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP leaders say they are not keen to break ties with the HJC but any alliance has to be based on the performance of the two parties in the Lok Sabha polls.

If there is no alliance, we are ready to go on our own. The responsibility for rupture of ties will be that of HJC. The ball is in their court, said a BJP leader who did not want to be named.

Party sources said Amit Shah has begun with Haryana his campaign for the four states that are due to go assembly polls in the next few months. Shah addressed a rally at Mahendargarh Aug 14 and at Jind Aug 16.

His holding two rallies in three days in Haryana points to the importance being given to the state by the party leadership, a party leader said.

Apart from Haryana, elections would be held in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir.

These assembly polls are crucial for the BJP as they are the first round of state polls to be held after the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP is keen to keep up its winning momentum of the Lok Sabha polls and not let the Congress seize the initiative.

The polls are also crucial for Amit Shah as he was made BJP president last month in the wake of his role in the BJP's stellar performance in Uttar Pradesh where it bagged 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress is a partner in the ruling coalition in all four poll-bound states. In Haryana, it came to power again in 2009 under leadership of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

While the Congress bagged 40 seats in the 90-member assembly in 2009 with over 35 percent vote share, the BJP managed to win only four seats and got a paltry nine percent vote in the state.

The BJP also has difficulty in identifying an acceptable chief ministerial candidate before the polls. BJP leaders indicated that the party may not project a chief ministerial candidate in view of the state leaders having their own areas of influence.

The BJP's fortunes in Haryana saw an upswing in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. Some Congress leaders also defected to the BJP before the general elections and more are joining the party now.

Former Congress general secretary Birender Singh, considered an influential leader from the Jat community, joined the party at Jind Saturday.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])


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