There is nothing particularly impressive about Khutahan area under Shahganj assembly segment of Jaunpur except for the fact that until Thursday the BJP had never organised a rally here.
For that matter, except the Samajwadi Party, no other political party could organise a rally here for the past 10 years. That’s because Khutahan is a Yadav-dominated area in Shahganj assembly segment considered loyal to the Samajwadi Party.
To break the SP’s hold in the region, the BJP has tactically given the seat to its alliance partner — Soheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) — that commands loyalty among Rajbhars, who are part of OBC group that is led by Yadavs followed by Maurya (Kushwahas) and the rest.
“The tactical alliance the BJP entered into with the SBSP and the Kurmi-dominated Apna Dal has helped BJP open new frontiers in east UP. The BJP is eyeing big gains through the small alliance,” a party source told HT.
Under the seat-sharing agreement, the BJP left eight seats for SBSP and 12 seats for Apna Dal.
Barring five seats, all the seats the BJP left for its alliance partners are spread across the final two phases of the polls.
For the BJP, however, the test is not on the 20 seats the party left for its locally influential OBC-packed allies in east UP.
“The alliance would be tested not on the seats where SBSP and Apna Dal are contesting, but on the remaining majority of the 89 seats in the sixth and seven-phase where BJP has put up candidates. The BJP is hoping that the alliance will help to transfer Rajbhar and Kurmi votes to the BJP,” a party insider said.
“Watch out for crowd profile in BJP rallies in rural areas of Purvanchal. They are largely poor, the kind of voters you expected in a SP or BSP rally that had a markedly better rural connect especially in east UP. Not since 1996 have I seen this kind of voter-connect that Modi-Shah combine has ensured through a concerted multi-pronged strategy that includes tactical alliances,” says Rupesh Pandey, a member of BJP’s state executive committee.
Not that everything is going well for the alliance. Unhappy with BJP playing the big brother and putting up its candidate even in Rohaniya – a seat traditionally contested by Apna Dal – Union minister Anupriya Patel’s faction declared candidates in four seats where BJP too has put up candidates.
But, whether by design or default, Apna Dal isn’t expected to harm BJP in such seats for different reasons.
Take Rohaniya, part of Prime Minister Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha segment for example. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal both have put up candidates. But, with three Kurmis in fray in this Kurmi-dominated seat, the BJP having put up the lone Bhumihaar in this seat could have it easy.