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Election results 2014: My mission was to deliver in UP, Amit Shah says

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 17, 2014
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/Election-results-2014-My-mission-was-to-deliver-in-UP-Amit-Shah-says/articleshow/35233049.cms

When the Supreme Court ordered Amit Shah to stay away from Gujarat , Narendra Modi told him to make his externment an opportunity . Go to UP, he told Shah. Which Shah did and has delivered UP for 'saheb' - and how! TOI caught up with the man who, after Modi, is the biggest winner of this election.

Q: So it turned out to be rather easy for you.

A: The scorelines can be misleading . It was actually a very tough fight at the outset, with odds heavily stacked against us. Three important communities — Muslims, Jatavs and Yadavs — who together account for 41% of UP's population , have been closely aligned with our rivals. It had been more than a decade that BJP lost power in Lucknow and, more importantly , its pre-eminence in the state. Unlike Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat or Chhattisgarh where we have the advantage of having leaders with appeal across the state, in UP we were handicapped by the absence of a face with similar recognition.

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Q: What did you do to turn things around? You were also unfamiliar with the state...

A: Yes, I was new to the state. I was aware of that deficiency and so I tried to study the state, its society , economy and its political trends. I also learned what was wrong with BJP. We had not contested panchayat elections in 12 years, and we had disengaged ourselves from district and taluka elections . As a result, a whole army of politically conscious citizens who should have been with us joined other parties simply because we could not provide them with a political avenue. We announced that that from now on we will contest each election and our ranks immediately started swelling. I also did away with the practice of leaving it to candidates to select those who will look after booths in their constituencies because I realized that left to themselves , they would prefer to give the important responsibility to a person of their own community. I ensured that capability was the sole criterion for the selection of who all should look after booths and I am very happy that this worked wonders for us. We also dissolved all booth committees and replaced them with new ones. 'BJP success was my mandate'

Q: People say BJP in UP has ceased to be a political party, it has become an amalgam of egos and ambitions...

A: I will not like to get into that. It was a huge collective effort and everybody made contribution. I sat with all party candidates who had lost Lok Sabha and assembly elections. I sat with them to analyze the results of their defeats.

Q: But you preferred winning ability rather than stature as the yardstick for the selection of candidates.

A: I was clear that my mandate was to ensure BJP's success in the state. So I decided not to persist with those who lacked the potential to win. Except in two cases, we changed all those who had lost three elections in a row.

Q: You made a special effort to reach out to OBCs...

A: As part of the outreach, we focused on communities who had not been supporting us. we held rallies across the state, 450 in all. We used 450 video raths to reach Modiji's message to what I discovered as the "dark zone" of the state.
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