Struggling to find a ‘face’ in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has thrown open its doors for turncoats by preparing a list of 81 such Opposition leaders, who have either joined or are negotiating entry into BJP ahead of 2017 assembly elections, sources have said.
The BJP is keen to induct some of them, feeling they will bring ‘critical’ votes with them to win seats. The BJP won just 48 assembly seats last time.
“Opposition leaders joining the BJP helps create a buzz and make the party look like it is winning,” a BJP office bearer explained.
The strategy had worked for the BJP ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha election, but came a cropper in Bihar when most of the turncoats got defeated. Some leaders fear that inducting a large number of Opposition leaders will add to factionalism and a tug of war for poll tickets.
Most of these 81 leaders are from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which looks set to give more tickets to Muslims at the cost of representation of the Brahmins.
Former BSP MP Brajesh Pathak – a prominent Brahmin face – cited low representation to the upper caste community as reason to quit Mayawati’s party two days back. He is now with the BJP.
“BSP has been reduced to being the party of one caste,” Pathak said. BSP leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and RK Choudhary (both OBC leaders) and former Rajya Sabha MP Jugal Kishore (Dalit) also joined the BJP recently. BSP’s Rajesh Tripathi and Bala Prasad Awasthi and Samajwadi Party’s Sher Bahadur too crossed over to the BJP this month.
Congress’ move to woo Brahmins has also set alarm bells ringing in the BJP. Its strategists want to take the fizz out of Congress’ campaign by weaning away some of its sitting MLAs and prominent leaders. Congress’ Sanjay Pratap Jaiswal, Vijay Kumar Dubey and Madhuri Verma crossed over to the BJP this month. It is also wooing a former chief of Pradesh Congress Committee, a Brahmin.