LUCKNOW: With the Uttar Pradesh elections reaching the halfway mark, there now seems to be clarity about the issues raised by each party and their narratives to back them up. So, while the ruling Samajwadi Party is selling its 'Kaam Bolta Hai' slogan and the BSP is underlining the negatives of its two rivals, the BJP's electoral strategy is a tried and test one: leverage Brand Modi.
After starting rather tentatively, Narendra Modi is now going full throttle. At each rally, he delivers retorts and repartees designed to become talking points in both social and traditional media.
He started off in Western UP with his SCAM acronym, standing for, he said, Samajwadi, Congress, Akhilesh, Mayawati. It left the BJP's rivals scrambling to come up with a fitting retort the next day. In Awadh, he sought to take the sting out of Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi's UP ke ladke pitch by claiming to be 'Uttar Pradesh ka god liya beta.' The quips are seemingly random but are designed to seize the agenda.
Political analysts believe the PM's sharp comments, such as his 'kabristan-vs-shamshan' comment in Fatehpur on Sunday, serve to deflect attention from his demonetization policy. Said one analyst, "At a time when the BJP is facing the public's wrath in the aftermath of demonetisation, he has been able to turn the discourse around by selling the move as a war on cheats."
Before the first shot was fired in anger in these elections, there were those who believed that the PM would desist from investing too much of himself in this election because doing so had cost him dearly in Bihar last year. But Modi has not held back. He remains among the busiest campaigners in this election. Having already addressed around 20 rallies in the first three phases of the election, not to mention seven Partivartan rallies before the polls were announced, this is as much a Modi campaign as Bihar was.
The PM's pitch is also carefully calibrated to suit the specific geography. The selection of issues for each rally is very carefully done keeping in mind the local connect.
So in Yadavland, he attacked the SP and its alliance with Congress. But when he speaks in places like Jalaun, which have a large Dalit population, his target is the BSP and Behenji Mayawati. Political scientists believe that this time there is no Modi wave sweeping UP as witnessed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but the first three rounds have established that the BJP is banking on him to deliver the state.