Uttar Pradesh BJP may drop 25% of its MPs to fight anti-incumbency
The BJP swept to power in 2014 on the back of its performance in its western and northern Indian strongholds like Uttar Pradesh, where it won 71 seats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to drop at least one-fourth of its Parliamentarians from Uttar Pradesh to ensure the personal anti-incumbency they face does not impact the party’s electoral prospects, two leaders aware of the deliberations regarding this said.
Uttar Pradesh sends the largest number, 80, to the 543-member Lok Sabha or Parliament’s Lower House. The BJP swept to power in 2014 on the back of its performance in its western and northern Indian strongholds like Uttar Pradesh, where it won 71 seats. It lost three seats — Gorakhpur, Phulpur, and Kairana — in the by-elections last year to a united opposition that has prompted the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (SP) to ally for the general elections that start from April 11. The BJP won the 2017 assembly polls in the state with 40% vote share while the BSP and SP together managed to get 44%.
One of the leaders said the BJP has conducted performance reviews at “various levels and through different people” to get a sense about the chances the party’s lawmakers of getting re-elected. “There are at least 20-25 MPs [members of Parliament] who face strong personal anti-incumbency. We may have to replace them,” the leader said.
He added the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the party, have asked all BJP lawmakers to share the developmental and organisational works they have undertaken over the last five years. The leader said the BJP has also got feedback from its organisation while separate seat wise surveys were also commissioned to independent agencies over the past one year.
“A [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi wave brought several of these MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2014, but their performance over the last five years has not been satisfactory. There continues to be a groundswell of support for the Prime Minister, but we cannot take chances by repeating these MPs,” the leader said.
Another leader said at least half a dozen BJP Parliamentarians were in touch with the opposition parties to get tickets while Savitirbai Phule, the Lok Sabha member from Bahraich, has joined the Congress. “With the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal [RLD] coming together, the caste equation of almost every seat has changed. We may have to pick our candidate keeping this in mind,” the second leader said.
BJP’s election managers admit the SP-BSP-RLD alliance will pose a challenge particularly in western Uttar Pradesh, which has a sizeable Muslim, Dalit and Jat population. The party is depending on a counter-polarisation among the upper and backward castes to get closer to its 2014 tally of 71 seats. At a BJP meeting in Lucknow on Monday to discuss candidates, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said the party aims to win 74-plus seats. “Our discussion about candidates is almost complete. The party’s central leadership has to take a call now,” the second leader said.