The BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi’s recent dalliance with identity politics and Hindutva has raised suspicions about the party’s Mission 272+.
Is the BJP not sure about the outcome in the 46 seats of eastern UP and Bihar that will go to polls in the last two phases on May 7 and 12? Or, is the change in tactic a calculated move to relive the Ayodhya magic of the early nineties?
The party, however, expects to make huge gains in the 15 and 7 seats in UP and Bihar, respectively, that go to polls on Wednesday, which will cover Allahabad, Phulpur, Faizabad, Sant Kabir Nagar and Bhadohi, among others, in central UP.
As the outcome could well determine the make or break for the BJP, a mid-course correction in the party’s electioneering became perceptible when Modi’s close aide Amit Shah described Azamgarh — from where SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting — as a “den of terrorists”.
It was followed by a Modi rally at Faizabad near Ayodhya where he had a huge portrait of Ram as a backdrop on the stage.
What’s more, Modi invoked his backward status at a gathering at Domariaganj on Tuesday to counter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s ‘neechi rajniti (low level of politics)” barb. Was it an attempt to attract OBC votes?
“The symbolism of such messages is clear. The BJP’s strategy is to polarise the voters along religious lines while pandering to identity politics ahead of polling in UP and Bihar,” said an observer.
During the past two decades, the BJP gradually lost out to the SP — which walked away with OBC vote-bank — and the BSP — which consolidated its grip over Dalits — and became a marginal player in UP politics.
In the 2009 elections, the BJP won just four of the 18 seats in Poorvanchal and only one of the six seats in adjoining areas of Bihar. This time, the BJP is sensing the return of the OBC votes to its fold.
With Muslims apparently backing the BSP on seats going to the poll in the last phases of elections, the BJP Hindutva card was essential to attract Hindu votes — including the OBC and non-Jatav Dalit votes — through polarisation. If that happens, the SP could well be decimated on its own home turf.
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