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Six leaders to spearhead BJP's PR battle on CAA from Sunday


New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has identified six leaders to spearhead the nationwide outreach, to be kicked off on Sunday, on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

While Anil Jain will be leading the party's charge in UP and Bihar -- the two states that have seen major minority resentment towards the CAA, Avinash Rai has been entrusted with leading and coordinating the outreach programme in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi.

Delhi, which will go to polls early next year, has witnessed large-scale violent protests, starting near Jamia Milia Islamia University. Since then, the national capital has been witnessing protests -- virtually every day -- either by student organisations or intellectuals.

Saroj Pandey will coordinate the party's CAA outreach in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and the Union Territories (UT) of Daman and Diu.

Suresh Bhatt will lead the programme in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and the UTs of Chandigarh and Jammu & Kashmir.

For the southern zone, the party has selected Ravindra Raju. He will coordinate with the media to organise press conferences, meetings and outreach to people in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, the Andamans, Puducherry and the Lakshadweep.

For the eastern belt, former Bengal BJP chief Rahul Sinha has been made in-charge of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and the northeast. He will be working in coordination with Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam Minister of Health & Family Welfare, in the northeast.

That the BJP has decided to depute leaders even for smaller states/UTs, like Daman Diu, the Andamans and the Lakshadweep, shows the comprehensive and meticulous planning behind the outreach programme to convince people that the CAA is neither anti-minorities nor anti-Dalit, as is being spread by many.

Apart from these six leaders, a whole array of articulate MPs, party leaders will travel across the country to make the BJP's stance clear to people, and arrest any slide in the party's popularity that might have been caused by the huge opposition uproar after the CAA was accorded the presidential assent.

BJP Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narasimha Rao will be in Rajamundry and Arun Singh, new MP, will be West Bengal's 24 Parganas on Sunday.

On Monday, former MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan will be in Maharashtra's Nashik and Nityanad Rai in West Bengal's Cooch Behar. On the same day, Gajendra Shekhawat will be in Telangan's Karim Nagar.

Sunil Deodhar, currently on tour of Telangana, has been asked to visit Nizamabad. Gen (rtd) V.K. Singh will visit Bikaner and Arjun Meghwal Kochi in Kerala.

On the New Year's eve and the New Year's day, the outreach programme has been allowed a break.

But on January 2, it will be back to business and Kiren Rijiju will be in Mysore to convince people that the CAA is in "nation's interest".

The programme was chalked out after Thursday's closed-door huddle of the party leaders, chaired by working president J.P. Nadda, on the issue and how to swing the public perception on the CAA in its favour.

The meeting was also attended by BJP National General Secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh, Union Ministers Prahlad Patel, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Kiren Rijiju, Arjun Ram Meghwal and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

The inclusion of Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, a vocal leader from the minority community who articulated party's position on the abrogation of Article 370, has been tactical.

Party MPs, like Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Narsimaha Rao -- who are quite popular on social media and have sizeable following, were also part of the meeting.



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