To beat anti-incumbency, BJP to bank on brand Modi

To beat anti-incumbency in state polls, BJP to bank on brand Modi

BJP is in power in four of the five states (UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab) going to polls in February-March next year

The meeting also indicated that BJP, being battered by the Opposition over the handling of the pandemic, will take on the rival campaign head on. Credit: PTI File Photo

Political symbolism was at full display at the BJP national executive meet, the first such meeting of the ruling party after the Covid-19 outbreak, months before the crucial state polls in 2022.

The party made it amply clear in the course of deliberations at the meet that it will bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a front to beat the anti-incumbency and people's anger against the alleged mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic in states, even as CM Yogi Adityanth will have an important role in UP.

BJP is in power in four of the five states (UP, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab) going to polls in February-March next year.

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The political resolution passed at the meeting hailed how "India's image has emerged as a strong nation under the leadership of Modi at the international fora" and the country "created history by achieving the milestone of 100 crore vaccination in just 278 days" reaffirming Modi's "firm resolve and strong leadership".

The first 15 of the 22-paras political resolution of the party refer to Modi's 20 years of public life as Gujarat Chief Minister and then Prime Minister. Meanwhile party chief J P Nadda, hailed him as the "world's most popular public leader" and said, "the nation has hailed the programme and policies of Modi ji and the ideology of the BJP and has given their blessing."

Before the meeting began, the Prime Minister had a brief interaction with women in traditional Chhath attire.

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Chhath is a popular festival in the entire Hindi belt and has instant connect with Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Modi himself is an MP from Varanasi in Eastern UP, the region where the BJP hopes to do much better in the coming polls than in the Jat-land of Western UP where farmer agitation seems to have created problems for it.

BJP's main rival Samajwadi Party has an alliance with the Jat party RLD.

Indicating its keenness to put up a united face in the crucial Hindi state Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 Lok Sabha members to Parliament, the party made Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath place the political resolution at the meeting to capitalise on the Modi-Yogi combo brand, which fetched it nearly 50 per cent votes in the last Lok Sabha polls.

While the BJP builds up the "kabristan versus Hindu temples" narrative in UP and has launched a huge attack on SP chief Akhilesh Yadav for his remarks on Jinnah, BJP national executive saw Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan citing the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and lauding Modi for his foresight of enacting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which aims at providing citizenship to minorities in neighbouring countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan. Clearly the polarised campaign will continue.

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The meeting also indicated that BJP, being battered by the Opposition over the handling of the pandemic, will take on the rival campaign head on.

Nadda said 10 lakh volunteers of BJP will participate in "Ab Har Ghar Dastak" programme to ensure 100 per cent vaccination. The party also decided to distribute booklets on Modi's initiatives during the pandemic.

While the Opposition made a huge campaign around the pictures of bodies floating in Ganga in UP to browbeat the Yogi government, party-ruled Uttarakhand has seen three Chief Ministers in a year after the reins were finally given to Pushkar Singh Dhami, relatively still a political greenhorn .

BJP, which for the first time in the last 25 years, will go to polls in Punjab minus its oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal, made a conscious attempt to reach out to Sikh voters with Nadda talking at length about Modi government's actions like expediting action against the 1984 riots accused, facilitating foreign grants to gurudwaras and keeping langars outside the purview of GST. The BJP-SAD alliance was a stitching together a Hindu-Sikh front and the saffron party has so far contested very few seats there. This time it has announced to contest alone on all 117 seats.

Clearly the odds are many and the BJP meet did make a pep talk to cadres telling them how BJP improved its performance even in West Bengal where Trinamool Congress scored a hattrick victory.