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BJP takes RSS help to win over rebels ahead of civic polls

Party’s anxiousness to win over dissidents has fuelled speculation about likely advancement of Lok Sabha polls

lucknow Updated: Nov 12, 2017 10:07 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP,RSS,Civic polls
The BJP is taking help of the RSS to win over rebels ahead of UP civic polls, which will be first popular test for the Yogi Adityanath government that assumed power in March this year.(HT Photo )

Faced with rising rebellion in its ranks ahead of the month-end civic elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party has sought and got the support of its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in placating rebels.

These elections are the first popular test for the Yogi Adityanath government that assumed power in March this year.

The damage-control exercise has been initiated at the level of the UP BJP general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal. The placate bid showcases the party’s anxiousness to win over the members who are upset at being ‘ignored’ in the ticket distribution.

Bansal is the Sangh nominee in the BJP.

Bansal has started meeting those upset with ticket distribution during his regional visits. State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey too has started speaking to the rebels. Sangh’s pracharaks too are out, meeting party workers in Nagar Palika Parishads and Nagar Panchayats (semi-urban bodies).

For instance, in Muzaffarnagar Palika Parishad, the party got former lawmaker Sushila Agarwal to drop out of the race for the semi-urban body’s chairperson post. Agarwal had filed her nomination against the party’s official candidate Sudha Raj Sharma.

Even in municipal corporations where BJP has always done well, the party recently deployed the state’s deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma to pacify rebels who had filed their candidature against the party’s official candidates in various wards.

In Ayodhya, from where chief minister Yogi Adityanath is to launch the campaign for the civic polls on November 14, the BJP quickly placated Raju Das, the priest of the famous Hanumangarahi temple, who had turned a rebel after being denied a mayoral ticket from the temple town.

Das, who had announced plans to contest the polls on a Shiv Sena ticket, backtracked at the last moment amid the buzz that senior BJP leaders had immediately got busy in pacifying him.

“We hear that he even met Yogiji at the Devi Patan temple. For a party like the BJP, such a proactive approach in containing dissent does indicate more to it than meets the eye,” says Shoaib Khan, who is contesting for corporator’s post from Laxmanghat ward. It is the same ghat from where Yogi lit the lights on Diwali eve.

Indeed, this anxiousness BJP is showing in winning over disgruntled party cadre has made many, both within the party and outside, suspect a possible advancement of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, at least by a ‘few months’ if not more. Political experts say the prospect could brighten considerably if the BJP does take Gujarat again, that too by a big margin.

“The BJP under Modi and Shah is known to spring surprises. Advancement of national polls could be one of them because no matter how good a government is, it inevitably ends up fighting anti-incumbency nearer to its term. The advancement theory thus could hold water from that perspective, especially if they do well in Gujarat and with a healthy margin,” said Irshad Ilmi, a veteran journalist.

The UP civic poll results would be known on December 1 just ahead of the two-phased Gujarat polls on December 9 and 14.

“Though we doubt if they would be able to do well in either civic polls of UP or the Gujarat elections where the BJP appears to be on the backfoot, if they beat the odds, the preponement of national polls then would be a reality. That probably could well explain the effort BJP is now making to placate its cadres and keeping them in battle-ready mode,” says UP Congress vice president Pankaj Malik.

The BJP has also decided to come out with a manifesto for these civic polls. This manifesto, a first for the BJP in civic polls, would be released on Sunday by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, urban development minister Suresh Khanna and the party’s state unit chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.

First Published: Nov 12, 2017 10:07 IST