NEW DELHI: The adage that ‘the political party that wins Uttar Pradesh wins India’ seems to have made BJP the early bird in the heartland state this poll season. The party leadership may have yet to pick up a state chief or even choose a CM candidate—causing confusion among its rank and file—it is embarking on a strategy that will take Modi government’s achievements to the voters.
Elections to the state’s Assembly, slated for next year, are going to be crucial for the BJP—a test whose outcome would set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. MPs have been tasked to take the Centre’s schemes to the people, remove bottlenecks and show that progress was hindered due to the state’s Samajwadi Party government despite the Modi government’s earnest work.
Party sources said the government’s new initiative is Disha (District Infrastructure Scheme Advisory) committees, to be headed by the Lok Sabha MPs with District Collector, Block Development Officers, Panchayat Representatives on its board. Sources said though Central government had started many schemes like rural electrification, crop insurance, Adarsh Gram Yojna, MGNREGA, they were yet to reach the grass roots—either the state government was not agreeing to spend money or cooperating with the Centre. They gave example of rural electrification targets which were falling short in UP. The panels can monitor these schemes thus giving them a handle in addressing issues of people, as they felt constrained with no real power.
This initiative is coupled with strengthening the organisation. After the recent Delhi national executive, UP state executive will be held on April 1 where decisions taken during the Delhi meeting will be endorsed. This will be followed by district meets, and then mandal-level meetings. So, the BJP strategy would work at two levels.
With the Narendra Modi government pushing the development agenda, the BJP will harp on the nationalist issues as raised during the national executive in Uttar Pradesh.
While the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have their chief ministerial candidates, the BJP has still not decided on a name. There was a strong view in the party to announce a name to energise the campaign. But any such move has inherent pitfalls that aspirational state leaders could end up working at cross purposes, so the party may follow the example of states like Haryana where leadership can be decided post-poll, based on performance.
BJP will hit streets starting April 14 for 10 days when programmes on Dalit inclusion, by commemorating Ambedkar’s anniversary, will begin. The first three days will be social inclusion, where cadres will reach out to all villages with the BJP’s view on Ambedkar, followed by meets for farmers in next three days, and finally talking to all village bodies on measures announced in budget for them.
Crisis of Vacancy
Two seats of the party general secretaries are vacant since Amit Shah first rejigged his team in 2014. The post of treasurer is still being held by minister Piyush Goyal. Party sources said they were expecting changes this month, but no list came out. This was linked to an expected reshuffle in the Union Cabinet. Ministers like Manoj Sinha were tipped to become UP state president, while many MPs from the state were hoping for a cabinet berth. As the permutation and combination of getting the caste and status of a leader’s right was still being done, buzz is that it could happen in May after the poll results of five state Assemblies were announced.
Old is Gold
BJP chief Amit Shah continues with the old team after getting a fresh term two months ago. There were expectations that new members would be added to the national executive besides national office-bearers and state presidents before its meeting on March 19-20, but no changes were made. Poll-bound states such as UP and Punjab continue with the party chief whose terms have expired.