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BJP tweaks bypoll campaign, to target SP-BSP’s ‘opportunistic’ alliance

The BJP will also highlight what it says are the inherent contradictions in the SP-BSP arrangement. It plans to play up the Lucknow guesthouse incident of 1995 when the BSP chief was manhandled by SP workers and the BJP had come to her rescue.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2018 10:19 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Gorkahpur bypoll,BJP,BSP
Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath looks on towards a crowd during a public meeting for BJP's candidate Kaushlendra Singh Patel for the bypoll to Phulpur (Allahabad) Lok Sabha seat in Allahabad on March 4.(AFP Photo)

The BJP was quick to tweak its strategy for the March 11 Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls after Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party on Sunday decided to back archrival Samajwadi Party’s candidates.

“Sanyasi banam swarthi gathbandhan (monk versus opportunistic alliance)” would be the new campaign slogan, senior party leaders said, a reference to chief minister Yogi Adityanath who vacated the Gorakhpur seat after he was named the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

His deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya was the Phulpur MP. Both the leaders are now members of the legislative council.

Though Mayawati said the move wasn’t a support for the SP but a bid to help the party best suited to defeat the BJP, the ruling party’s campaign managers are of the opinion that the slogan would resonate among voters and also counter the Other Backward Classes (OBC)-Dalit-Muslim arithmetic, the opposition camp is counting on.

The BJP will also highlight what it says are the inherent contradictions in the SP-BSP arrangement. It plans to play up the Lucknow guesthouse incident of 1995 when the BSP chief was manhandled by SP workers and the BJP had come to her rescue. Mayawati had sworn off SP after the incident.

“It was the BJP that had saved Mayawatiji when she was targeted by SP. But such is the desperation that she is supporting the same party now,” state BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey said.

Desperation of rivals is another theme the BJP will keep playing at during the remaining four days of campaigning. Party leaders are convinced that the tweaked campaign would be able to negotiate the caste buildup the opposition is banking on.

Mayawati’s clarification made their task easier, they said. In the video clip released by the ANI news agency, the former UP chief minister talks of the SP supporting the BSP in March 23 Rajya Sabha poll and her party returning the favour by during the Vidhan Parishad, or legislative council, elections.

“It’s not an alliance, it’s a deal,” BJP leader Chandramohan said.

The party could also ask the chief minister to hold more public meetings in Gorakhpur that sent him to the Lok Sabha for five successive terms despite an unfavourable caste equation.

Upendra Dutt Shukla is the party candidate from the constituency that also houses the Gorakhpur mutt, an important seat of Hinduism. Adityanath continues to be the chief priest of the temple.

BJP strategists believe that gangster Atiq Ahmed, who is in jail and contesting as an independent, will split the Muslim vote in OBC-dominated Phulpur , which will work to the party’s advantage. Phulpur was a seat once held by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 10:19 IST