NEW DELHI: After snapping up high-profile leaders from the ranks of the BSP and Congress, which included Swami Prasad Mourya and Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the BJP appears divided on the extent of turncoats the party should admit in its ranks and field them in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
The Central BJP headquarters in the national capital and the party office in Lucknow have been witnessing a regular trickle of Samajwadi Party and BSP MLAs checking their prospects in the saffron outfit. “Within the BSP, sitting MLAs who have been denied tickets for the state polls and those who know they will lose the elections, are checking with influential BJP leaders. Some SP leaders are also sending feelers. In a few days, the BJP will have to decide on how many turncoats to admit in the party,” said a senior BJP functionary.
While the BJP is wary of a repeat of its Bihar experiences when it fielded a large number of party hoppers, which antagoned the workers of the saffron outfit, there is also an apprehension that 150 out of 403 candidates in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections had polled less than 10,000 votes. “BJP’s performance in the 2012 elections was dismal. On half of the Assembly seats, BJP candidates were a distant third or fourth, polling less than 10,000 votes when the winning nominee bagged over one lakh votes. It’s pertinent that those who command a strong vote base get nomination, even if they come from outside the BJP,” said a senior BJP leader.
Those backing the “outsiders” also give Assam’s example where former Congress leader Hemant Biswa Sharma turned the BJP’s fortunes around after joinng the party.
Another section of leaders reason on the basis of the 2014 Lok Sabha performance when the BJP bagged 73 out of a total of 80 seats, while riding on the Narendra Modi wave. “After the surgical strikes, there is a swing in favour of the BJP. Modi will again be the face of the party, unlike Assam. Besides, in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has an organised cadre who have been toiling hard for decades. If turncoats are favoured in their places, there will be disappointment, which may be reflected during elections,” said a BJP national general secretary.
Incidentally, the BJP has not released its first list of candidates, even though the SP and BSP have.