Scared by a possible Opposition alliance between the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress and other smaller and regional parties, the BJP leadership at the Centre is now adopting a multi-dimensional strategy to retain the 73 seats that the party had won in alliance with the Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, have admitted that, if the Samajwadi Party joins hands with the Bahujan Samaj Party, it would really be extremely tough going for the saffron brigade in Uttar Pradesh.
That is the reason why, at every meeting that he holds in the state, party chief Amit Shah has been urging his party workers to try and increase the vote share of the BJP. The BJP won seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections due to the division in the Opposition ranks, as also the impact of the Modi charisma during the polls. That phase is gone and, now, the BJP has to face the people’s wrath because of the failures or assumed failures of both the state government and the Centre.
Recently, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his senior ministers met the top brass of the RSS in Lucknow and Delhi. The RSS leadership has shared its feedback on the government and bureaucracy and people’s perception of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and his senior ministers.
The RSS leadership has advised that a large-scale reshuffle in the ministry be carried out and those ministers who have been a liability or are facing corruption charges be dropped like hot bricks.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister has also been advised to effect major overhauling of the bureaucracy across the state. The general complaint against the bureaucracy is that it does not listen to party workers for genuine work.
The BJP is also trying to keep all its allies in good humour. Recently, chief minister Yogi Adityanath attended a function to celebrate the birthday of Apna Dal president and Union minister Anupriya Patel at Lucknow.
In order to counter the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance of Other Backward Classes and Dalits, the powerful Dalit leader and Union minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, was also invited to the meeting.
The BJP is now working to make use of the services of veteran politician Ram Vilas Paswan to win over the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh through a series of meetings of LJP with Apna Dal and the BJP.
The BJP is also working on a strategy to hold at least one big public meeting every month in the state and mobilising people from neighbouring districts to swell crowds at meetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP’s national president, Amit Shah, has asked social media supporters in Varanasi on Wednesday to form WhatsApp groups to publicise the achievements of the Modi and Yogi governments.
The BJP is trying to reach out to important persons, as well as the common man on the street, to publicise the good work done by the central and state governments. Adityanath has identified at least five important personalities from different groups in the state capital and visited their residences and sought their cooperation.
For the BJP leadership, Uttar Pradesh forms the core of the central election strategy of the party and the entire focus is on retaining the strength of its Lok Sabha members from Uttar Pradesh, which is, at present, a seemingly impossible task.
The state BJP’s worry is that both Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati are determined to join hands against the BJP and no intimidation by the Centre has been able to persuade Mayawati to change her stand.
In the event of a Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance becoming a reality in Uttar Pradesh before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the number of seats the BJP will win will drastically fall and that will make a big difference to the party in its seat estimates.
(The writer is a political commentator)