As the political battle lines are being redrawn in Uttar Pradesh in wake of two separate significant developments - riots in Muzaffarnagar and recent anointment of Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate - BJP is hoping to aggressively project itself in the state.
While, the party derided the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi to riot hit areas as “secular tourism”, it has also called meeting of state core group to recalibrate its response in the wake of new developments.
The Uttar Pradesh core group would meet at BJP president Rajnath Singh’s residence in Delhi on Tuesday to fine tune its strategy.
Apart from Singh, Uttar Pradesh in-charge and Modi confidant Amit Shah, state BJP president Laxmi Kant Bajpai, party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and general secretary Varun Gandhi will be present at the meeting. Sources said the core group is likely to do stock taking after the recent riots apparently changed the political dynamics in the state. While, the minority community is miffed with the ruling Samajwadi Party, the majority community is veering towards the BJP, party leaders claim.
As Modi has already been announced as the PM candidate, and there are talks about him contesting the elections from the state, party has started attacking the SP and Congress to present itself as viable option. Internally, it has set a target of winning 40 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
It remains to be seen, how far the BJP will go to raise the push for issues like Ram Temple, uniform civil code and the abrogation of Article 370 that are likely to have traction within the state.
While, BJP leaders like Ravi Shankar Prasad were prevented from going to the riot-affected areas, the visit of Congress biggies came in for criticism from the party. “They are taking a secular ride on the communal riots which took place under the nose of the Central government and in front of the eyes of the UP government,” BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Samajwadi Party, which supports the UPA from outside, also took a dig saying it is good that the PM should undertake such visits as elections are nearing. “PM Manmohan Singh has gone to Muzaffarnagar... it is a good thing... elections are near and he should do this,” senior SP leader Azam Khan said. He added that it would have been better for the PM to have also visited other areas like Faizabad, Mathura and Bareilly, where riots have taken place.
BSP chief Mayawati criticised the visit saying the Centre should have taken the initiative of dismissing the UP government and imposed President’s Rule instead.