Holi started early at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in Lucknow on Saturday.
Uttar Pradesh BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya, 48, was the most sought after leader at the party’s state headquarters as it became clear the BJP was on course to end its ‘vanvaas’ in UP. Maurya, however, credited the victory to ‘Modi magic’.
Maurya had addressed nearly 250 rallies during the campaign, the most by a BJP leader.
His campaign credo, inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, was: “Yeh sochkar vote dijiyega ki aapka Keshav chunaav lad raha hai (vote considering the fact as if your Keshav is contesting the polls).”
HT caught up with the BJP’s man of the moment and a likely contender for the chief minister’s post.
Q: Has the outcome really sunk in?
A: Well, I had already said, ‘abki baar, 300 paar’ (This time, more than 300 seats). We were confident of a two-third majority. The results are yet another confirmation of the country’s trust in PM Modi. The UP results will affect the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Now it’s certain that the country will re-elect Modiji in 2019.
Q: But were you seriously hoping for this kind of a sweep?
A: We were. It’s a confirmation that Modiji’s appeal hasn’t dimmed. In fact, his magic is increasing. In a democracy people are king and they believed in Modiji’s sabka saath, sabka vikas (development for all).
Q: BJP had said that UP results would be a virtual referendum on demonetisation.
A: The results are there for all to see. Modiji kept on saying that each and every move of his is taken for the welfare of the poor. The poor believed the PM. I hope UP ‘ke ladke’ (a reference to Akhilesh Yadav) as well as BSP and other cynics too realise now.
Q: So who is going to be the CM candidate? Are you among the front runners?
A: The party’s parliamentary board will decide on the CM-pick. The BJP has several candidates and who becomes the CM is not for the state unit to decide anyway.
Q: What are going to be party’s focus areas, your agenda?
A: Azam Khan’s buffaloes are certainly not going to be the focus as was the case during SP rule. Our focus, our commitment would be the Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra that we are committed to. Our Sankalp Patra would usher in true Ram Rajya in UP. We will focus on development of all, appeasement of none.
Q: Did your rural penetration and OBC connect strategy pay dividends?
A: Rural UP responded to Modiji’s appeal as did urban UP. OBCs sided with BJP for sure as did other caste groups. In fact, UP didn’t vote for BJP on caste lines. It voted for development.
Q: You had in your rallies promised probe into cases of corruption by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati. Have you had a change of heart?
A: No. We will definitely inquire into cases of corruption and action would be taken against whosoever is found guilty. We won’t compromise on corruption. Akhilesh tried to project a false reality of development through advertisements.
Q: Would your allies Apna Dal and SBSP be a part of the government?
A: Yes. I believe so. But the final decision would of course be taken by the party high command.