In a bid to revive party morale after a string of electoral reverses, and to send a message to potential ally Ajit Singh that the party is in poll mode, the BJP on Tuesday announced candidates for 11 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.
They include bigwigs like party president Rajnath Singh from Ghaziabad, former party president M.M. Joshi from Varanasi, former UP CM Kalyan Singh from Etah, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from Rampur, Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur, Maneka Gandhi from Anwla and Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit. This list was believed to have been finalized much earlier, at the time of the trust vote in Parliament, but was withheld for fear of rebellions.
The announcement of Rajnath’s name suggests the party may be thinking of fielding some of its organizational backroom boys. It remains to be seen whether leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Venkaiah Naidu will be fielded. This, observers feel, may also be due to the general belief that in the recent vote of confidence, the party scarcely had anyone except Advani to articulate its political position convincingly in the Lower House,, leading to a rather poor performance.
UP may no longer be the gateway to government formation at the Centre, but it sends 80 representatives to Lok Sabha. The BJP has been in constant decline here and may get totally squeezed between the BSP and the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine. An alliance with the RLD is its last hope.
UP is also ideologically crucial for the Hindutva project in the long run. A terminal decline here is symptomatic of a failure of Hindutva at the very core.