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In a first for a UP CM, Yogi set to campaign extensively in civic polls

Party star campaigner he is likely to address public meetings in all UP cities going to polls

lucknow Updated: Oct 29, 2017 23:54 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times
UP CM Yogi Adityanath is also campaigning for the party candidates in Himachal Pradesh..
UP CM Yogi Adityanath is also campaigning for the party candidates in Himachal Pradesh.. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

Yogi Adityanath is set to become the first Uttar Pradesh chief minister to campaign for the party in civic polls. Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said meetings of Adityanath are being planned in all the 16 municipal corporations.

“He is likely to address public meetings in favour of party candidates in all 16 municipal corporations where elections are being held,” said a BJP leader.

“It will be the first for the state. At least, I can’t recall seeing any chief minister campaigning for their respective parties in civic polls,” says veteran journalist MM Bahuguna.

BJP leadership is apparently looking at these polls as an occasion to ‘connect’ with the masses before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which some observers feel could be pre-poned.

BJP sources said Adityanath has been given a free hand in deciding the party’s strategy for these elections for which there has been an unprecedented surge in the number of candidates wanting to contest the polls that are largely fought on local issues.

While the credit for BJP winning 71 seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 312 seats in 2017 UP polls goes mainly to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, the results of the civic polls will also be a test of Adityanath’s leadership skills, feel many.

The surge in number of ticket seekers has thrown its own set of challenges as the saffron strategists are also alive to the possibility of dissenters trying to sabotage party’s chances.

It’s here that BJP feels that Adityanath’s campaign could help the BJP.

“It’s a bit early to speak about the number of public meetings that Yogiji would address in BJP’s favour but given his popularity the party would of course like to take maximum advantage,” UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak told HT.

Only last week after a cabinet meeting, Adityanath had a closed door meeting with his ministers to discuss the party plan for the three-phased civic polls to 16 municipal corporations, 198 Nagar Palika Parishads and 438 Nagar Panchayats (semi-urban bodies).

“The BJP surely is going to use it as an exercise to connect with the masses. The results would reflect popular mood in UP,” said SK Dwivedi, a retired professor of Lucknow University’s political science department.

The two deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma too would have a big role to play along with party’s ministers, local MPs and lawmakers for the elections that are largely fought on local issues such as power, water and road.

With Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party preparing to contest the elections on their party symbol and itching to embarrass the BJP, the stakes are high for the saffron brigade.

For the record, the BJP even when it was faring badly in assembly polls had done well in civic polls.

For instance in 2012, BJP had won 10 of the 12 mayoral seats despite being humiliated in the assembly polls.

“This is BJP’s best time. That’s why there is so much demand for party nomination. But I also see a similar rush for Samajwadi Party tickets. Bahujan Samaj Party leadership is taking the polls seriously and to spice up the contest Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too may hold public meetings here,” says Athar Siddiqui from the Centre for Objective Research and Development.

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 23:54 IST