NEW DELHI: Discarding its Assam and Delhi experiments of naming a chief ministerial face, the BJP will depend on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its sole mascot to win the battle for Uttar Pradesh early next year.
“The surgical strikes have shored up the Prime Minister’s popular image. People are positively responding to the Modi name at public meetings as passionately as they did in 2014,” said Devendra Singh “Bhole”, BJP Lok Sabha member from the Kanpur constituency. Sources said Rajnath Singh, the party’s prominent face in Uttar Pradesh and Minister for Home Affairs, is strongly in favour of Modi being the main campaigner.
BJP strategists believe the strong administrative credentials of BSP boss Mayawati and the social welfare achievements of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav are the BJP’s key challenges. “Only Modi towers higher than Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav because of the Centre’s achievements. The party is aware that the Hindutva slogans might have electorally expired in UP. Modi blends nationalism and development effectively,” said a BJP national general secretary.
With Modi as the BJP’s only victory mantra, BJP chief Amit Shah has conveyed to Gorakhpur Lok Sabha member Yogi Adityanath to tone down his overt chief ministerial campaign. Union MoS for Tourism & Culture Mahesh Sharma has also got the message from the boss and is confining himself to western Uttar Pradesh and is organising programmes for the birth centenary celebrations of party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay.
Though a section of the BJP believes the Hindutva card will not play well for the party, no chances are being taken. Having become the face of the Dadri row, “Sharma has to effect counter polarisation among Hindus against the Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan for Muslims,” said a BJP functionary. Meanwhile, BJP veteran and Union minister Kalraj Mishra, the Brahmin face of the party in the state, knows that age is not on his side.
Apart from the surgical strikes, the BJP is also building up a campaign around Modi by portraying him as the main architect of the successful Goods and Services Tax legislation. Modi has addressed two rallies in Saharanpur and Lucknow.
The BJP’s massive election campaign in the state will be launched next month by flagging off four Parivartan yatras, whose dominant theme is the decisive leadership of the Prime Minister along with his empathy and concerns for the poor in the form of about 80 Central schemes.
“With a family feud raging in the SP and the BSP facing desertions, the BJP has got its best opportunity to capture power in Lucknow. It also knows that only Modi can reign in the aspirations of a dozen ambitious leaders in the state,” said a senior SP functionary.