Knives sharpened for Rajnath

Updated on May 11, 2007 10:46 PM IST
As the BJP’s parliamentary board assessed the damage, Singh refused to take the blame, reports Shekhar Iyer and Vijay Sharma.
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None | ByShekhar Iyer and Vijay Sharma, Lucknow

No sooner had the results were out, knives were ready for BJP president Rajnath Singh for the party’s one of the worst

debacles in Uttar Pradesh.

As the BJP’s parliamentary board assessed the damage, Singh refused to take the blame, remarking "What responsibility...?

We do concede defeat. Election results are shocking and unprecedented. We will probe and rectify our shortcomings.”

Upset by the showing, other senior BJP leaders, however, did not mince words in blaming him for they called a “deliberate” absence of a clear strategy to project the party as the real alternative to Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party.

Nothing was also done to woo Brahmins after Mayawati fielded 86 candidates belonging to that caste, they said. The result: sixty of them won the elections for her. The Brahmin community chose to plug for the BSP, which was once feared for reverse discrimination.

Not only former PM A B Vajpayee, who remains the tallest Brahmin leader for the party, could not campaign but others like Murli Manohan Joshi or Kalraj Mishra were not roped in in a big way. Even rallies of Hindutva poster-boy and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi were curtailed on the plea that they would upset the BJP’s allies.

Secondly, BJP leaders said, Singh insisted and succeeded in renominating all the sitting MLAs because of their personal loyalty to him despite vocal opposition from Kalyan Singh who was projected as BJP’s Chief Minister candidate in a lukewarm manner due to old rivalry.

Kalyan Singh had lost his appeal even among the backwards since he helped Mulayam in the Government formation and general impression has been that he was hobnobbing with Mulayam Singh Yadav in a discreet manner even after returning to the BJP.

Thirdly, the BJP leaders who insisted that they be not quoted said, the manner in which rebel leader Yogi Adityanath was coaxed back into the party by replacing 14 candidates in eastern UP in the last minute.

The return of Aditynath, better known for image as a tough Thakur, helped Mayawati to consolidate grip on the Brahmins who were perpetually in a battle for supremacy with Rajputs.

The RSS was relied upon heavily to deliver votes at the booth-level so much so there were 10 organisational secretaries in each district leading to overlapping authority. This is one election that the Sangh cannot blame the BJP for any deviation in ideology or choice of candidates as it backed Rajnath Singh to the hilt. The BJP chief absolved the Sangh of any role in the debacle.

Other BJP leaders said Venkaiah Naidu was roped in to head the campaign and poll management, largely to keep L K Advani’s camp in good humour but "there was confusion all round."

Fourthly, the dissenting BJP leaders thought Singh worked out an unprofitable alliance with the Apna Dal (38 seats) and the Janata Dal (13), which cost the BJP heavily. BJP’s own OBC (Other Backward Classes) leaders including Kalyan Singh and Vinay Katiyar were dead against the tie-ups.

Singh got his loyalists to contest as candidates of the Apna Dal and Janata Dal(U) and some were asked to seek even BSP ticket, they said.

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