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Shah sees SP as BJP’s chief rival in UP, yet to decide on CM face

nation Updated: May 26, 2016 08:45 IST

NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah on Wednesday claimed the main contest for next year’s assembly election in Uttar Pradesh will be between his party and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). “Their base is strong. Even their cadre is strong,” Shah explained to a select group of journalists here.

Uttar Pradesh goes to poll next year and the high stake battle in country’s most populous state that he won for Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha election will be litmus test of Shah’s organisational capabilities. The BJP is banking on consolidation of backwards and Dalit votes in its favour to spring a surprise on the two principal forces of UP – the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

As in-charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh during 2014 national poll, Shah had identified the BSP as his main rival, but Mayawati’s party drew a blank in the polls. It was the SP that could survive the ‘Modi wave’ to an extent, winning five Lok Sabha seats. Shah remained non-committal on projecting a chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, saying, “No decision has been taken on this.”

Asked if BJP would benefit from projecting a face, like it did in Assam, Shah replied that a strategy for one state did not always work in another. Unlike Assam, he argued, BJP has been traditionally strong in Uttar Pradesh and it has a strong network of worker up to booth level.

Shah claimed Nitish Kumar’s entry in Uttar Pradesh, if it happens, will end up benefitting the BJP because it will eat into its rivals’ vote base.

First Published: May 26, 2016 08:45 IST