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BJP emerging top depends on next 3 phases

Voting in the next three phases for 169 seats holds the key to BJP emerging with the maximum number of seats in the UP polls, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2007 22:57 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer

So buoyant is the BJP's mood that its strategists are not ruling out chances of the party emerging the single largest party.

They say the voting in the next three phases for 169 seats holds the key to BJP emerging with the maximum number of seats. So far, even BJP leaders have acknowledged that the BSP appeared to be a favourite with voters.

"Things have changed dramatically," said BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley. "Upper caste voters – Brahmins and Rajputs – have dumped BSP and turned to BJP again because we have consolidated the support of non-Yadav backward castes."

Jaitley said, "our success in cobbling up with the Janata Dal and the Apna Dal will bear result in the remaining phases."

He said the SP's decline was sharp because the Muslims have turned away and its pockets of influence have dwindled.

BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "we could beat the BSP if the alliances we have worked out delivers in ballot boxes. The Kurmi votes account for nearly 25 per cent in these areas."

Naqvi, who played a key role in securing the deal with the Apna Dal, said the BJP and its allies were mounting an aggressive campaign.

BJP Chief Rajnath Singh said he was even hopeful about forming the next government in Uttar Pradesh with the party's allies - - Apna Dal and JD (U).

"BJP, JD and Apna Dal are moving towards a clear majority in the state. After the completion of all seven phases, we are confident that our alliance will get the majority," Singh said.

Singh has chosen to address more meetings to galvanise votes of his community, the Thakurs who were hitherto seen as supporters of the Samajwadi Party.

BJP strategists say the battle is now directly with the BSP rather than the Samajwadi Party.

The four phases will also see the clash of muscle power in a belt that is known for criminalisation of politics.

Senior BJP leaders acknowledge that the party's standing as the chief alternative to the SP could have been better projected. "Initially, Mayawati and not the BJP was seen as the real alternative to SP's goonda raj," said a senior BJP functionary.

"We have also suffered on account of the perception that our anti-pathy for Sonia Gandhi and the Congress is shared by the SP and hence, we could get closer. But that is changing fast."

First Published: Apr 23, 2007 22:50 IST