The BJP's dreams of repeating its astounding performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, when it won 71 of the 80 seats, could run aground of the electoral arithmetic in the eastern region of the state, with the odds seemingly stacked against the saffron party.
Of the 32 LS seats in the eastern UP, the BJP had lost the lone seat of Azamgarh, where Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav managed to scrape through by a narrow margin.
The electoral landscape, however, has changed this time, with the alliance of arch-rivals SP and BSP posing a huge challenge to the BJP.
In more than half of the seats in 2014, the combined vote share of the SP and BSP was much more than the saffron party nominees. On some seats, the difference was more than one lakh votes, favouring the SP-BSP alliance.
In Lok Sabha seats like Ghazipur, Ballia, Lalganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Jaunpur, Ghosi and a few others, the grand alliance could well be ahead of the BJP, going by the performance of the parties in 2014.
Some BJP leaders here have even admitted that the fight in eastern UP was ''very tough''. '
'The grand alliance poses a stiff challenge... we will need to fight exceedingly well,'' said a senior BJP leader in the state, while speaking to DH here.
What threatens to compound the BJP's misery is the strong presence of the Congress in some seats. The Congress had come second in Kushinagar and finished third in Pratapgarh in 2014.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is also in-charge of the eastern UP, has been campaigning hard in the region.
It's no wonder then that the BJP's state leadership has requested an increase in the number of rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the region. On Tuesday, Modi addressed three election rallies within a span of four hours at Mohanlal Ganj, Barabanki and Baharaich.
''Modi will be addressing more rallies in the days to come,'' said the BJP leader.
Rising to the challenge, SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati too have a number of rallies lined up in the next few days here.