The BJP virtually kicked off its campaign for the next year’s Uttar Pradesh election with its top-decision making body holding a two-day conclave in Allahabad. The national executive meeting that ended Monday not only spelt the BJP’s plans for the state but also offered a glimpse of what to expect from the party and its government at the Centre in the coming days.
Here are the 5 takeaways from this crucial meet:
Addressing the parivartan (change) rally at the end of the two-day meet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his development model as an alternative to what he called the rule of corruption and dynasty in the state. This is the second time in recent days that Modi, who rode to power on the promise of a clean government, raised the issue of corruption. Speaking at a function at India Gate on May 28 to celebrate two years in office, the Prime Minister talked about the string of scandals that battered the previous government. This, after a long silence on alleged scandals that have hounded the BJP – from Vyapam in Madhya Pradesh to the alleged links between IPL founder Lalit Modi and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhra Raje. Earlier this month, the BJP forced out its senior leader and Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse following allegations that he swung a land deal in favour of his wife and son-in-law.
‘Goonda Raj’ vs parivartan
The BJP’s focus, however, will be the “Goonda Raj” under the Samajwadi Party government and the governance deficit in the state while making a pitch for Modi’s development model. “If UP is developed no one can stop India from reaching the number one spot in the world,” Modi said in his speech. It was his 11th visit to the country’s most populous state in a year, underlining the seriousness the party accords to the assembly election.
Amid allegations -- since proven wrong -- by one of its lawmakers that Hindu families are leaving Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh, a communal flashpoint since 2013 riots, party president Amit Shah said, “Do you want such exodus from UP? If not, then remove the SP government from power.” Finance minister Arun Jaitley gave a call for making the assembly election a referendum on the law-and-order situation. In targeting the SP as its number one opponent, the party is hoping for polarisation to make electoral gains.
The BJP will continue to attack the SP and the Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. Uttar Pradesh politics has been bipolar, with the two parties, who depend on identity politics, taking turns to rule the state. The BJP, which won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, has set a target of 265+ for the state polls and is hoping to repeat the 2014 feat if the election becomes a triangular contest. It has 47 seats in the 403-member assembly.
Word of mouth
The high command has asked party leaders to aggressively publicise the achievements and welfare programmes of the Modi government. The party’s strategy, first laid out in the Bengaluru national executive in 2015, is to drown out the opposition through effective publicity via the now-extensive network of its legislators and parliamentarians across the country.