Uma's 'Ganga Yatra' exposes internal differences in UP BJP

Firebrand BJP leader Uma Bharti's `Ganga Yatra', which entered Uttar Pradesh a week back, may or may not infuse new life into the saffron party in the politically crucial state but it has certainly exposed internal differences in its state unit.

Although a week has passed since the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister's yatra – which began from Gangasagar in West Bengal on September 21 – reached UP,  senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have preferred to maintain distance from it.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was not present when the yatra entered Varanasi. Similarly, former state BJP chief Om Prakash Singh remained absent when it reached Chunar in Mirzapur district, from where he hails.

The state party leadership had asked its cadre to make sure that the yatra turned out to be a big success, but the prevailing groupism in the state unit seemed to have come in the way, according to party leaders here.

BJP is desperately looking for an emotive issue to revive itself in UP – which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha – after the Ram temple movement ceased to be a factor in the state. Now, it has set its eyes on the holy Ganges.

“A section of the state leadership does not like Uma’s interference in UP. In the recent Assembly polls also, many BJP leaders had dubbed her an outsider,” a leader said. BJP could secure only 50 seats in the elections.

“If the yatra becomes a success, the credit will go to Uma Bharti,” said a  BJP leader. He reminded that senior leader Kalraj Mishra in the recent As y said that Uma could not be the chief ministerial candidate as she was an “outsider”.

Another factor that has come in the way of the yatra is former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who is tipped to make a comeback to his parent party in a few days.

The section that supports Kalyan Singh is not enthusiastic about the yatra.

“Uma Bharti and Kalyan Singh both come from the Lodh community. Any rise in Uma’s stature will have an impact on Kalyan,” said the leader.

BJP has planned a series of  programmes centred on the sacred river in villages, towns and cities located by its bank. The party hoped to attract people in its programmes as it felt the issue was emotive.

The party is also trying to woo people of backward castes and communities who live in villages and towns on the river bank.

Ganga is an emotive issue for Hindus and BJP knows it.

Given the response to the yatra, it remains to be seen whether BJP can turn it into a political issue and reaps electoral dividends in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

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