ALLAHABAD: With decisive victory in Assam, and increased vote share in Southern states under its belt coinciding with completion of two years of Modi government, BJP has begun strategizing for its next battle. BJP chief Amit Shah did not mince words as he set clear targets – clear majority in the Uttar Pradesh elections due next year, and even bigger mandate for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
As Modi landed in Allahabad to attend party’s strategizing national executive meeting, the message was clear that mandate in 2019 and UP victory in 2017 were intrinsically linked. While, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke briefly during the meeting of national office bearers where is learnt to have laid stress on focusing on cadre, it was his lieutenant Shah who spoke about Uttar Pradesh’s poll issues attacking the Akhilesh Yadav government.
“The Samajwadi Party government allowed kabza (enchroachment) over government land in Mathura…the exodus of families in Kairana was unfortunate,” Shah said referring to two issues that are likely to feature big in BJP’s election campaign. Twenty six people had died in violence in Mathura, while 346 hindu families have allegedly been forced to migrate from their home due to rising crime graph. When questioned in a presser senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad denied charges that BJP was trying to polarize or fan communal passions.
UP elections were also clearly on mind of Shah, as he stressed an unprecedented event within a gap of one month. “Two Islamic countries – Saudi Arabia and Afghanisatan – gave their highest civilian awards to Modi,” Shah told the meeting. UP has significant muslim population.
BJP’s national executive meeting at Allahabad which is the confluence the Ganga, Yamuna, and mythical river Saraswati, will kick start election campaign with a mixture of development agenda of Modi government and hindutva issues. Shah lauded the work done by “no-corruption” Modi government in two years in terms of achieving 7.6 GDP rate, providing a “fine bridge” between rural and urban population in terms of schemes, and even providing healthy mix of reforms with welfare setting “new standard of democratic accountability.”
“The issue of who runs the country has been settled. Politcal leadership will take decisions and bureaucracy will implement them. Modi has provided decisive political leadership,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said quoting Shah’s speech.
As BJP chief ministers, senior cabinet ministers landed in Allahabad, many took out time to visit the Sangam(confluence) of rivers and temples. Amidst presence of senior leaders, four leaders were seated on the dais at venue of KP College grounds. Modi and Shah in the middle, party veteran LK Advani and FM Arun Jaitley on either side, showcasing the pecking order.
RSS leader who acts as link between Sangh and BJP, Dr Krishna Gopal was also present during the meetings. Gopal who belongs to UP, had earlier helped party during the Uttar Pradesh 2014 Lok Sabha campaign when BJP won 71 seats.
Modi would speak twice on Monday. Once at the closing of BJP’s national executive meeting, and then again at a political rally at Kumbh grounds on banks of Ganga and Yamuna. City has been decked for Modi. Posters put up state leaders covered every inch of available space around the venues and roads in the city. While, Modi and Shah dominate, Varun’s increased spatial presence has become the talking point as BJP is yet to take a call on its CM candidate.
Sources said party would conduct district vise surveys to gauge the mood of electorate and decide on CM face later. The surveys would focus on caste, local factors and appeal of leaders to help Modi-Shah to pick up candidates and UP face.
Shah’s Political Message
Politically, Shah’s speech sent a clear message what the party was aiming for. “There were two decisive events this year. Two years of Modi government which ended the policy paralysis and elections which opened a gateway for North East, as BJP won Assam elections,” Shah said in his speech adding it was “a happy beginning for a good future.”
As BJP increased its vote share in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, Shah said this would provide a gateway for coramandel states as BJP would now focus on forming government in Odisha, Karnataka, Goa.
The meeting held extensive discussions on the party's strategy for "states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa" where Assembly elections are due in less than a year away.