Art 370, TT and turncoatskey to BJP’s UP by-poll planUpdated: Oct 18, 2019 19:49 IST
On the day when Rajkumari Ratna Singh, three-time Congress MP, was praising the BJP after joining the party in presence of chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Pratapgarh, the UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh Patel was busy drafting an opposition party candidate as BJP campaigner in Kanpur.
Both Kanpur and Pratapgarh are among the 11 seats due for by-polls on October 21. In each of these seats, the BJP has mobilised its cadre to effect defections in the opposition camp as part of a two-fold strategy, aimed as much as winning the by-polls as preparing the ground for the 2022 assembly polls.
“The Congress opposed BJP government’s move on Article 370 in Kashmir. Forget leaders, Congress would now lose even its trusted cadre too,” chief minister Yogi Adityanath has been saying in his by-poll rallies. The abrogation of instant triple talaq practice is also being cited prominently in an apparent bid to divide the Muslim vote, political leaders admit.
Adityanath is supervising defections of big leaders while deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya, Dinesh Sharma as well as ministers are busy contacting locally influential opposition figures.
The party has roped in senior UP ministers like Swami Prasad Maurya, Brijesh Pathak, Nand Gopal Nandi and senior leader Surendra Nagar to contact opposition leaders. Maurya, Pathak and Nandi were important leaders in the BSP who joined the BJP, while Nagar was a prominent Gujjar leader of Samajwadi Party, who along with former PM Chandrashekhar’s son Neeraj and Sanjay Seth quit the SP for the BJP.
The BJP candidate in Pratapgarh Rajkumar Pal, contesting on ally Apna Dal ticket, was till a few years back with the Samajwadi Party.
“We welcome such defections as these expose the BJP thoroughly. They seem to have run out of loyal cadre and hence are banking on turncoats. Take it from me, the party is getting desperate and it has started showing. The by-poll results would shock the BJP,” says Samajwadi Party leader IP Singh, who was previously with the BJP.
“These defections are also causing friction in the BJP at the local level. You may have noticed the ugly fights that broke out at several places during BJP internal polls,” he says.
But unmindful of criticism, the BJP has opened its doors to turncoats.
Surendra Katiyar Chandra, Govindnagar contestant of Jan Adhikar Party, floated by aide of former BSP chief Mayawati and with whom Congress had inked a pact in the 2017 UP polls, too has joined the BJP.
Along with Saleem Ahmad, who was BSP’s mayoral candidate in Kanpur in 2006, former SP leader Rajendra Sharma, SP’s former block pramukh Shashikant Singh among many other political turncoats and several local Congress leaders, Surendra is among the party’s by-poll campaigners.
“The BJP is the best party at the moment and that’s what we are telling the people,” said Surendra who also praised party’s decision on Article 370 which he claimed is also striking a chord with the people.
Such defections in virtually all the by-poll seats, are being marketed as endorsements of the ruling party moves by opposition leaders.
In Gangoh assembly seat in Saharanpur, BJP has got leaders like former lawmaker and BSP’s zonal coordinator Ravindra Kumar Molhu, Dharmendra Gautam, district BSP chief in Gangoh, BSP’s Saharanpur district chief Rishipal Gautam to join.
In Gangoh Congress leader Imran Masood’s brother Nauman Masood is the party candidate and to upset his plans the BJP also got former Congress MLA Sushil Chaudhary to join its fold.
“We don’t get affected by turncoats and backstabbers. Our campaign is going strong and we will win,” said Imran Masood when asked if defections in opposition camps being engineered by the BJP would impact results.
In Jalalpur assembly seat that BJP, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya got some locally important opposition players to join the BJP after which he claimed that the party was all set to breach the few remaining opposition citadels too. Maurya was referring to Rampur, a seat BJP has never won, and Jalalpur which BJP has won just once in 1996.