BJP plays moderate Vajpayee card for wider appeal

BJP falls back on moderate face of Vajpayee, highlights his appeal among all sections

The focus on Vajpayee also comes amid a perception of disenchantment among a section of Brahmins against the BJP

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla looks on as Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other Union Ministers after paying tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his Birth Anniversary at the Central of the Parliament in New Delhi on Saturday. Credit: IANS Photo

The BJP on Saturday invoked the moderate persona of former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, reaching out to segments beyond the ambit of hardline Hindutva appeal to counter the soft Hindutva politics of Congress in UP.

On Vajpayee’s 97th birth anniversary, the party lined up a series of events in poll-bound UP and other states besides Delhi, where it launched a special micro-donation campaign to raise funds through contributions as low as Rs 5 with BJP chief J P Nadda announcing that party workers will connect with millions of people through this campaign.

“I have donated Rs 1,000 towards the BJP party fund. Our ideal of always putting the nation first and the culture of lifelong selfless service by our cadre will be further strengthened by your micro-donation. Help make BJP strong. Help make India strong,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on the launch of the programme, which will continue till February 11, the death anniversary of the party’s ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Nadda flagged how the party was fulfilling the vision of Upadhyay and Vajpayee under Modi’s leadership.

In UP, where the party is battling an anti-incumbency post Covid-19, BJP planned motorcycle rallies in all 403 Assembly segments where it will hold Atal Yuva Sankalp Divas to reach out to youths at a time both Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Priyanka Gandhi of Congress are banking on young voters. During the Yatra, which will cross nearly 2,000 organisation circles of the party, BJP workers have been asked to apprise voters of the work done by the Modi government in the last seven years as the party plans to push its “good governance” plank.

Also read: BJP's 2022 challenges: Saving Gujarat and reclaiming UP

The focus on Vajpayee also comes amid a perception of disenchantment among a section of Brahmins against the BJP. Vajpayee, BJP’s tallest leader in recent decades, a Brahmin, had a personality acceptable across cross sections. He had won the Lucknow Parliamentary seat for five consecutive terms from 1991 to 2004.

Paying floral tributes in Lucknow, UP CM Yogi Adityanath recalled Vajpayee as a leader who “rose above party lines” and one who was respected by people from the ruling party and the Opposition. He also insisted that the traditions of Vajpayee have been “emulated” by Modi.

Addressing an event in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar talked about Vajpayee’s contributions to economic modernisation and national security while Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recalled his “endearing personality” and “persuasive” ways.

Leaders from ally-turned-Opposition party Shiv Sena took a veiled dig saying Vajpayee was the “only leader after Jawaharlal Nehru” who was appreciated by people across the country, and that the ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ slogan truly suits him. Sanjay Raut’s comments were seen as a snub to PM Modi, whose pet slogan is this.

Check out DH's latest videos

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox