Zadaphia's BJP roots means Patidars to deliver in UP 

Zadaphia's BJP roots means Patidars to deliver in UP 

Former home minister of Gujarat Gordhan Zadafia is back with a bang in mainstream politics of BJP and has been made the party's in-charge of electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.

An out and out organisation man, Zadafia takes charge at a time when the BJP is fighting the next Lok Sabha polls with its back to the wall after a 3:0 loss in Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The party has also to battle a formidable alliance of caste parties — BSP and SP in UP.

The appointment has also come when farmers' unrest threatens to singe BJP’s poll prospects. Zadafia’s connect with the farming community can help the BJP paper over some of the anger. A leader from influential Patidar farming community, Zadafia was made the in-charge of BJP’s Kisan Morcha before 2017 assembly polls. BJP won the state with a huge margin.

Zadafia was later involved in a photo finish election to the Gujarat assembly in December 2017 when BJP was battling massive anger from Patidars and it seemed the saffron party could lose its bastion.

The appointment of Zadafia as party in-charge in the cow belt state also comes at a time when RSS and VHP have raised the tempo on Ram temple issue and BJP seems to be following the path of hardline Hindutva politics to meet the challenge from caste parties in UP. BJP, which had won 71 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP in 2014,  has lost three consecutive Lok Sabha by-polls in last one year. 

The seats it lost were Gorakhpur, represented earlier by Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath, Phulpur represented by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and Kairana in Western UP, the laboratory of Hindutva politics in the state. As such the challenge before Zadaphia is not a small one.

Steady rise

Zadafia, with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad roots, was the home minister of Gujarat during the 2002 post-Godhra riots when Narendra Modi was the chief minister. The state government had faced criticism for not acting tough to check the pogrom. Later, Zadafia had fallen out of favour with Modi and Shah, formed his own party and allied with BJP rebel Keshubhai Patel under whose chief ministership, he was also a minister in the '80s.

The fact that Zadafia has been given charge of Uttar Pradesh, a state which was directly handled by Shah in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, speaks volumes of the importance the party attaches to him.

His rise in the ranks is also expected to help the BJP tide over the challenge from Patidar leader Hardik Patel in Gujarat in the LS polls. Patel was mainly responsible for BJP’s tally in last assembly polls to dip so drastically.

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