As the elections are coming near, it now looks like a three-way battle between Samajwadi Party-Congress Alliance, BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party. Each party has declared its candidates for the election but we can’t do anything but to point out the mistakes of the one party who at one point was looking to win the election by a landslide but now has equal chances to win or lose the election like the other. The party is none other than our Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janta Party.
Mistakes of BJP
The BJP has given a ticket to former UP Chief Minister (and current Rajasthan Governor) Kalyan Singh’s grandson Sandeep from Atrauli, while his son Rajveer Singh is an MP from Etah. Rajnath Singh’s son gets a ticket from Noida. But the appearance of Friends and Family First in an avowedly anti-dynasty party which takes pride in being cadre-based is supposedly upsetting cadre.
Ignoring Yogi Adityanath Brand.
Shah is anxious about the fire-brand Yogi Adityanath, Eastern UP strongman and mahant (priest) of the Gorakhnath Math (sect), who is furious at being overlooked as a Chief Ministerial candidate and is threatening to act as a spoiler in his area. Adityanath has founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini, which, per a badly printed pamphlet, claims to be a “social, cultural and nationalist group of youth who seek to provide rightist Hindu platform.” The youth group is run like a tight ship and has emerged as a parallel to the BJP and RSS in almost all of Eastern UP. Adityanath, who does not get along with Shah, was personally placated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who announced an AIIMS hospital would be set up in his constituency of Gorakhpur. But the conciliation appears to have worn off. Adityanath spurned the Minister of State rank that he was offered in the last cabinet expansion which would have been a clever way for the party to take him out of the contenders for Chief Minister. He is now not veiled about his desire and wants a say in all tickets in Eastern UP. This is anathema to Shah, who wants to micro-manage ticket distribution.
Where is Varun Gandhi?
Varun Gandhi has had a strained relationship with the party leadership. Mr. Gandhi, the BJP lawmaker from Sultanpur in UP, has not been campaigning in the state, where elections will be held in seven phases starting February 11. He is considered to be popular among the cadres. Hence, he can mobilise the workers. He is young. He turned 36 on March 13. At 33, he was the youngest to become the BJP’s general secretary. But he’s nowhere to be found in the current scenario.
Alliance Of Samajwadi Party, Congress, and Rashtriya Lok Dal.
The Bihar-style Maha Gathbandhan (Grand Alliance) of the Congress, Samajwadi Party, and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal is also worrying the BJP which assiduously worked via Amar Singh to split the Samajwadi Party. This alliance will ensure a consolidation of the minority vote and that’s never good news for the BJP.
Meanwhile, the party is getting news of anger among the Jats of Western Uttar Pradesh, with Khap after Khap panchayat saying that after the notes ban, they will not vote for the BJP who has done nothing for farmers. Shah has deployed leaders like Sanjeev Balyan and Sangeet Som to camp there and assuage the Jat anger to no avail. The Jats say the BJP has failed to include them in reservation quotas, and now they will make it pay. Demonetisation is the BJP’s big campaign message with Modi highlighting it at rallies, but large swathes of rural UP have no access to electricity, forget digital banking, and the ground reports are not very positive on demonetisation.
Surgical Strike Goodwill has worn off.
Earlier, the BJP had tried to leverage the surgical strikes against Pakistan with posters for the election in Uttar Pradesh bragging of their success, but with cross-border strikes continuing, this was given up. The lack of traction also persuaded the BJP that as an election theme, this was not a winner.
Who is BJP UP Chief Minister Face?
The UP voter is repeatedly asking who is the BJP’s face for the state and Modi, who is set to address a record number of meetings, cannot really be the answer. In fact, the Samajwadi Party has started a whisper campaign of “Modi in Delhi and Akhilesh in UP,” similar to what the Aam Aadmi Party had done in Delhi for the 2015 assembly election.
Though the BJP has currently a clear advantage, it’s lead is nowhere close to what it wants. The entire opposition has only one target: Modi and is closing ranks to take him on. Shah is in the fight of his life and is ensuring that only he and Modi take all decisions. His battle-hardened crack election team is with him, Baba Ramdev and Salman Khan have been roped into campaign, but with voting beginning in just a month, many crucial nuts and bolts are still not in place. And that’s not how Shah likes it.