New Delhi: Drawing lessons from the bitter experience of inducting tainted leader Babu Singh Kushwaha into the party during Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, BJP President Rajnath Singh on Tuesday cautioned leaders from the state to ensure candidates for Lok Sabha polls have a clean image.
Singh held a meeting with the BJP Uttar Pradesh Core Group and other senior leaders from the state here to chalk out a strategy for next Lok Sabha polls. He emphasised on the importance of fielding strong candidates to improve BJP`s electoral prospects.
BJP wants to project itself as a "party with a difference" after paying dearly in 2012 assembly elections in UP for welcoming Kushwaha, who was ousted from BSP Chief Mayawati`s cabinet due to graft charges against him, into the party.
Acting on the advice of UP leaders, the then BJP President Nitin Gadkari had inducted Kushwaha with the hope of winning OBC votes. This had backfired as the decision did not go down well with the upper caste supporters of BJP who felt this has tarnished the party`s image.
Singh has asked the party`s Uttar Pradesh unit to look for strong candidates with a clean image and give preference to youth where possible.
The party has identified 68 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats where it can put up a good fight, according to sources. BJP had won only 10 seats in UP in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
A major issue dogging BJP in Uttar Pradesh is lack of a big issue which would attract the voters to the party in the polls. After the Ayodhya Ram temple issue which had helped woo the voters in hoardes, BJP has been in political wilderness due to the absence of any serious issue.
Since BJP has been targeting the UPA government as well as the SP dispensation in UP on the issue of corruption, it intends to go to the people on the plank of good governance.
Fielding candidates with a clean image, which would wash off the taint of the Kushwaha experiment, is high on BJP agenda in UP.