The BJP is all set to hardsell Narendra Modi as a powerful backward leader in the politically crucial states of UP and Bihar, divided bitterly on caste. The party will do so by projecting him as a leader who managed to achieve political success by weaving Hindutva with development in Gujarat.
The party is eyeing over 50% backwards whose support, Team Modi feels, could play a decisive role in the Lok Sabha polls that appears to have polarised the political fraternity into pro and anti-Modi camps. Strategists in the BJP estimate that just as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, citing Modi’s rise and eyeing the huge Muslim vote bank in Bihar, chose to sever his party’s 17-year association with the BJP-led NDA, the saffron brigade too may benefit by tapping the backward voters in its favour by selling “Modi and his development model”. Modi’s rallies are being planned in both UP and Bihar. His itinerary is likely to be made public soon.
Modi's plan, officially endorsed by the BJP, to call upon farmers in five lakh villages across the country to donate pieces of iron to help construct a statue of unity in Ahmedabad as a tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly called the ‘lauh purush’ (iron man), is also seen as an attempt to rally around the backwards. Senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Modi gave hints about the party’s plan soon after the JD (U)’s split with BJP became official, by claiming that Narendra Modi was being targeted as he was a “backward”.
Part of the party’s plan is also to connect through the ‘Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue move’ with the farmers (read rural parts of UP and Bihar) in an apparent bid to reinvent the BJP’s appeal as a party which has a presence in rural India. On Sunday, as Dinesh Dubey, national secretary of the party’s kisan morcha reached Lucknow, the BJP lined up its state leaders to welcome him. State BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai declared that all the ‘iron’ required for Patel’s statue would be mobilised from nearly a lakh UP villages alone.