NEW DELHI: Apparently wary of the “strong” arithmetic of the BSP chief Mayawati, the BJP has fallen back on the successful strategy employed during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to project the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh as its main rival to ward off consolidation of the minority vote base. The saffron outfit in its bid to give credence to the “SP as main rival” will harp on zero presence of the BSP in the Lok Sabha during the electioneering.
The BJP chief Amit Shah and his core team looking after the campaign strategy for the UP polls are learnt to have firmed up the views that the party has to stay dismissive about the prospects of the BSP. “The BJP had swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in UP by bagging 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats along with its allies on account of a sharp division in the Muslim votes, which almost constitute 18 per cent of the electorate in the state. The strategy even at that time was to stay dismissive of the BSP’s prospects and project the SP as main rivals. The BJP will again seek to ensure the Muslims don’t strategically vote, as they are known for, in favour of one political outfit,” said a senior BJP functionary.
While the ruling SP will be up against anti-incumbency in the next year’s state elections, the party is also in the midst of a tug of war within the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan. The BSP, in contrast, is reportedly actively working among the Muslim vote base, with its prominent face Naseemuddin Siddiqui seeking the blessings of the minority community with the plea that “Mayawati will give them the place of eminence when she comes to power”.
“Even while a small section of Dalit vote base had voted for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there are clear indications that they have gone back to Mayawati. The recent electoral trends in UP suggest that a political party bagging about 30 per cent of votes comes to power. The task for the BJP becomes further challenging on account of another trend that the polling percentages among Dalit and Muslims are much higher than our core constituencies,” added the BJP strategist.
The BJP strategists are pinning hope that the aggressive campaigning by the incumbent chief minister Akhilesh Yadav along with his apparent appeal among the youth would dent the attempts of the BSP to consolidate the minority vote base. “The youth among the Muslims seem vocal in support of the BSP, but the elders still swear in the names of the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. If peace prevails in the Yadav clan, the contest for power in Lucknow may remain quite open,” stated another BJP strategist.