2024 Lok Sabha polls: Confidence in Modi-Yogi factor behind BJP retaining 47 MPs in Uttar Pradesh - Hindustan Times
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2024 Lok Sabha polls: Confidence in Modi-Yogi factor behind BJP retaining 47 MPs in Uttar Pradesh

Mar 03, 2024 08:45 PM IST

The remaining 29 names in the BJP’s second list for Uttar Pradesh is likely to indicate the party plan on the allies, as well as party picks on key seats like Rae Bareli, Pilibhit, Sultanpur, Ghaziabad and Badaun

Retaining over 90% of the candidates in its first Uttar Pradesh list (47/51) on Saturday evening, the BJP surprised those who anticipated a drastic chop ploy to beat anti-incumbency.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lucknow. (DEEPAK GUPTA/HT FILE PHOTO)
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lucknow. (DEEPAK GUPTA/HT FILE PHOTO)

Was the BJP so confident of its MPs? Far from it, the party confidence largely stemmed from what a senior party functionary described as: “Kamal nishaan, MY maaney Modi ki guarantee, unka naam aur kaam, Yogi ka iqbaal aur Ram Bhagvan.”

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What this leader meant was that faces mattered little as the BJP’s lotus symbol, the ‘MY’ factor — (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s charisma, work and credibility among masses, along with chief minister Yogi (Adityanath’s) governance in U.P — and the high Hindutva connect post Ram temple inauguration were the necessary ingredients for poll win.

It wasn’t as if faces didn’t matter at all. That a lot of thought perhaps went behind clearing each name nationally and its possible impact on a game-changer state like U.P. was evident in the BJP axing its Delhi MP Ramesh Bidhuri, accused of directing communal rant against BSP MP Danish Ali in Lok Sabha in 2023.

“Irrespective of the reasons that might have prompted Bidhuri getting the axe, it provides the party’s minority wing reason in U.P. to back the party’s ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ narrative as the BJP is looking to edge closer to pasmandas (backwards),” said Irshad Ilmi, a political expert.

“Candidates were only changed in seats that the BJP lost. In fact, all sitting MPs were retained in the first list,” a party leader said, adding that the remaining 29 names on the second list would give away the party plan on the allies as well as party picks on key seats like Rae Bareli, Pilibhit, Sultanpur, Ghaziabad and Badaun,” this leader said.

The BJP’s second list would also reflect the party’s strategy on seats like Kaiserganj (Braj Bhushan Sharan Singh), where its MP had courted controversy after some of country’s celebrated wrestlers accused him of sexual harassment as the then Wrestling Federation of India chief

“But mere controversy alone won’t matter as the BJP think-tank goes deep into the nitty gritty of each issue,” a party leader said pointing out how Kheri MP and the country’s junior home minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ was retained despite a massive political controversy surrounding his son in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case of October 2021.

“Like in his case, the BJP leadership clearly indicated that the law would take its own course, but nobody can be indicted unless proven guilty. While everyone is focused on Teni’s controversy, people don’t care to notice that he has clocked 96% attendance has regularly participated in debates, asked 160 questions and moved 4 Private Members’ Bill. The party notices all these things along with winnability too,” this BJP leader said.

At another level, the BJP move reflects smart posturing too.

“Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to predict the BJP leadership’s mind. The retention of all winning MPs is also a sort of a challenge to their still divided opponents to try their luck against this BJP line-up,” a party functionary said.

Such has been the impact of BJP announcement that the party’s allies too seem to have largely fallen in line. For instance, before the announcement of BJP’s first list, U.P. minister and Nishad party chief Sanjay Nishad had demanded seat parity with other allies like Apna Dal (S). But after BJP first list that also named Sanjay Nishad’s son Praveen as party candidate again on the BJP symbol and not that of its ally, Sanjay welcomed the list.

“It’s our list too and we will work unitedly for Mission 400 by ensuring party makes a clean sweep from UP,” Nishad said.

Many BJP MPs like veteran Mahendra Pandey, a Union minister, got so emotional after being renamed that he spontaneously said: “Ek baar phir Modi sarkar, abki baar 400 paar (Modi government yet again, 400 plus seats this time).”

Many MPs admitted that they didn’t have a clue till the last.

“I am grateful to PM Modi and the party and will leave no stone unturned to ensure a massive sweep,” said BJP leader and Union minister Pankaj Choudhary, a several-term lawmaker from Maharajganj.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write offbeat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans, but also from newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn.

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