BJP changes poll gameplan, to cherrypick candidates | delhi | Hindustan Times
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BJP changes poll gameplan, to cherrypick candidates

The BJP is determined to be the power behind the throne in Uttar Pradesh after the 2012 elections.

delhi Updated: Nov 27, 2011 23:08 IST
Shekhar Iyer

The BJP is determined to be the power behind the throne in Uttar Pradesh after the 2012 elections.

"We are not deluding ourselves that we will form the government, but surely we could be in the second slot to play the king-maker," said a party strategist.

To that end, the party, which came third in the 2007 elections, is trying to pull up its tally of 48 to a "realistic" 60-plus or to even a "hopeful" 80.

The assembly has 403 seats. The BJP has pinned its hopes on the return of Brahmins, Rajputs, Bhumihars and other backward classes into the party fold.

There is "disenchantment" among the upper castes who voted for the BSP last time, taken in by Mayawati's "sarva samaj" approach.

"Now, they know she woos them only before elections," said a party functionary.

The party is also hoping that the row over foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail would bring back its traditional support base among small traders, shopkeepers and small farmers.

So far as strategy goes, the party -wary of its past mistakes- is trying to avoid an over-hyped campaign and keep an ear close to the ground.

It also intends to make the process of candidate selection more stringent. "Last time, we did not do our homework when it came to selection of candidates." said a key BJP strategist for UP.

As senior leaders like Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra and Uma Bharti crisscross the state to galvanise cadres, old RSS hands like Sanjay Joshi are getting down to choosing the "right" candidates.

Joshi, known for his organisational skills, was a general secretary of the national BJP until 2005 before a row over a CD forced his exit. A month ago, he was handpicked by party chief Nitin Gadkari to handle the election management.

Joshi has since moved to Lucknow to sift through internal surveys and feedbacks and interview prospective candidates. To avoid factional rivalry, the party has also decided not to project any leader as its chief ministerial candidate. It remains to be seen how fruitful the gambit proves.