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After scare, BJP plans to reconnect with voters

The twin losses had hurt the BJP that was set to celebrate the Yogi Adityanath government’s one year in office on March 19.

lucknow Updated: Mar 16, 2018 12:55 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Some BJP leaders admitted that the loss in Gorakhpur rankled the party more than Phulpur which was won for the first time in 2014.
Some BJP leaders admitted that the loss in Gorakhpur rankled the party more than Phulpur which was won for the first time in 2014.(HT)

A day after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) blamed the BJP’s handling of cadres for the reverses in by-polls on Gorakhpur and Phulpur parliamentary seats, a blame game started among the party leaders on Thursday.

Some BJP leaders admitted that the loss in Gorakhpur rankled the party more than Phulpur which was won for the first time in 2014.

They said the twin losses had hurt the BJP that was set to celebrate the Yogi Adityanath government’s one year in office on March 19.

The leaders claimed the celebrations would be held but the organisation had tweaked it to ensure that the party connected with the rural UP afresh, especially the villages dominated by OBCs and Dalits.

Denying the claims, UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak, who was on a tour to Bhadohi and Mirzapur, said it should not be linked to the by-poll results.

“Our tours were chalked out in advance. It has nothing to do with by-poll results. But we would be more focused on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Pathak said.

However, leaders privy to the developments in the BJP claimed the party was planning to organise ‘samrasta’ (social harmony) meets with the help of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Ministers would also be a part of the BJP’s outreach initiative, they confirmed.

BJP leader Ramakant Yadav, who has been in both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), sounded a warning to the party.

“BJP needs to take care of OBCs and Dalits if it wants to do well in the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

BJP MP Shyama Charan Gupta claimed that the remarks made by minister Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi against BSP chief Mayawati and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav antagonised the OBCs and Dalits in the by-polls.

“The SP’s win has given strength to the SP-BSP unity, a prospect that the party had tried hard to avoid. The caste matrix of UP is such that a combination of Dalit-OBC chemistry with Muslim support makes it a potential combination,” a BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said.

A BJP strategist said a fresh jaati-todo (end caste equations) campaign would be required to defeat the caste calculations of the SP and the BSP.

In 1993, the first SP-BSP alliance had coined the slogan –“Miley Mulayam, Kanshiram, hawa main udd gaye Jai Shri Ram (Hindutva factor failed due to the Mulayam-Kanshiram chemistry)”.

Even before the SP candidates were officially declared winners on Wednesday, the opposition parties were heard shouting a new slogan: “Miley Akhilesh-Maya, lo palat gayi ab kaya (Look the face of UP has changed as Akhilesh-Maya have joined hands)”.

“It’s the anxiety of doing well in 2019 that forced UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey leaving for Farrukhabad and Kannauj. Rest of the party leaders will also be touring,” a political analyst said.

Irshad Ilmi, editor of Kanpur-based Urdu daily ‘Siyasat’, said: “The BJP government deliberately engaged in Hindutva politics to polarise majority votes. Now, the prospect of a SP-BSP alliance is in the making and the Congress will surely be a part of it in 2019. The alliance threatens to neutralise Hindutva with a Bihar-type caste ‘mahagathbandhan’.”

“I feel the Lok Sabha election will be a different ball game as there is no leader who can match to the stature of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said BJP lawmaker Radhamohan Das Agarwal who represents the Gorakhpur (city) assembly seat.