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BJP Lok Sabha preparations: Up for a perfect score in Uttar Pradesh?

The BJP has carefully woven its social engineering this time. The party already has Apna Dal and Nishad Party – predominantly Kurmi and Nishad outfits respectively – as its allies. It has roped in prominent and electorally influential OBC leader Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party. “They will help consolidate the OBC support for the BJP further,” said veteran political analyst J P Shukla.
Last Updated 24 February 2024, 01:56 IST

When the BJP’s national vice-president and the in-charge of the party’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, Baijayant Panda, recently urged the party workers to ‘create a record’ by winning all the 80 LS seats in the country’s biggest state, he only underscored its significance in the National Democratic Alliance’s 'abki-baar-400-paar' mission to win in more than 400 constituencies across the nation.

The opposition parties have dismissed the BJP’s ‘Mission 80’ in Uttar Pradesh as a ‘daydream’. But the saffron party, which won 73 and 62 LS seats from the state in the 2014 and 2019 elections respectively, is convinced that it is 'achievable' given the ‘groundswell of support’ in its favour, particularly after the consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on January 22 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The NDA government led by Narendra Modi has done its job. There is a favourable atmosphere for the BJP in the country after the consecration of the Ram Mandir,” Panda said, adding: “We not only have to win the elections but create a record by winning all the 80 seats in UP. If we cannot, it would mean that our planning had some deficiencies.”

The recent comment by Yogi Adityanath, the saffron-clad chief minister of UP, before the party workers that millions of devotees had visited the Ram Mandir after the consecration ceremony, also indicated that the BJP would rely heavily on the grand temple to make a clean sweep in the state in the parliamentary polls.

The BJP leaders, however, argued that not only the Ram Mandir, but the party also had the stellar performances of its governments at the Centre and the State to rely on. “The double-engine government has delivered on every front,” Bhupendra Choudhary, the BJP’s state president in UP, said. “The law-and-order situation in the state has improved. People are getting the benefits of welfare schemes. The state has emerged as a hub of investment.”

The BJP has carefully woven its social engineering this time. The party already has Apna Dal and Nishad Party – predominantly Kurmi and Nishad outfits respectively – as its allies. It has roped in prominent and electorally influential OBC leader Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party. “They will help consolidate the OBC support for the BJP further,” said veteran political analyst J P Shukla.

Some other analysts, however, feel that winning all the 80 seats in UP could be difficult for the BJP. They cite the Samajwadi Party’s resounding victory in last year’s by-poll for the Ghosi assembly seat, which had earlier been held by the BJP. The SP candidate had received support from not only the party's core Yadav and Muslim voters, but also from a section of the upper caste, non-Yadav OBCs, and the Dalits.

The BJP has got Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in the NDA to secure the support of the Jats. However, the farmers’ agitation might lead to a division of the Jat votes, benefitting the opposition parties.

The rival I.N.D.I.A. bloc received a shot in the arm after the Congress and the SP managed to stitch an electoral alliance in the state after initial hiccups. ‘’The alliance will prevent division of anti-BJP votes, especially the Muslim votes, to some extent,’’ said an analyst based in Lucknow. The decision of the BSP supremo Mayawati to go solo would certainly help the BJP. But the opposition alliance has managed to rope in firebrand Dalit leader Chandrashekhar alias ‘Ravan’, who wields considerable influence in the western UP districts.

Although the BJP and its allies had won 64 seats in the state in the 2019 LS polls, its margins were very narrow in more than 10 constituencies. The opposition parties obviously would pin their hopes on these closely contested seats this time.

The I.N.D.I.A. bloc leaders also feel that BJP’s ‘Mission 80’ was prompted by apprehensions that it may not get the required number of seats in the southern states this time.

Besides, Shivpal Singh Yadav, SP leader Akhilesh Singh’s uncle, had in 2019 fielded his candidates on several seats and, in some places, had managed to dent the vote bank of his nephew’s party and caused the defeat of its candidates. But Shivpal has now returned to the SP and his organizational capability could come in handy for the SP in the polls. “People are angry with the BJP. They will vote on the issue of inflation, and unemployment,’’ said Akhilesh Singh, the president of the SP.

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(Published 24 February 2024, 01:56 IST)

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