Surgical strikes have boosted BJP’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as the “political will” shown by the Modi government on the issue will resonate among the people, a top party leader said on Thursday. National security will “obviously” be a poll plank, he said, underlining the “political will” shown by the Modi government in asking the army to cross the LoC to hit terrorist launch pads in Pak-occupied-Kashmir.
“Development and national security are definitely issues. Who did take this decision (of surgical strikes)? It is this government that showed the political will of crossing the border. The army carried this out but the decision was of the government,” said the leader, who did not want to be quoted, in an informal interaction with reporters.
BJP will get a strong majority in the polls scheduled for early next year, he asserted. The saffron party has been out of the power in the country’s largest state for close to 15 years. Riding the ‘Modi wave’ it had swept UP in the Lok Sabha polls but is now facing stiff fight from two regional parties, ruling SP and BSP, which have ruled it by turn all these years.
The issue of surgical strikes will appeal across the caste divide in the state and, BJP leaders believe, will fetch them extra votes in a same manner as Modi’s “developmental agenda” did in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The Samajwadi Party remains a strong rival, he said, despite the feud in the ruling Yadav clan as it has a “big base” and BSP supremo Mayawati’s appeal to Muslims to vote for her party is an indication that its support base was slipping away.
BJP is better prepared for the assembly polls compared to the Lok Sabha poll in UP, he said, adding that it has formed booth committees in 87 per cent of total booths against 36 per cent in 2014.
Asked what difference does he find in the UP election compared to Bihar, another key Hindi heartland state where the party had lost badly last year, he said light-heartedly, “There is a change in atmosphere. Surgical strikes have happened.”
He also rubbished the opposition’s criticism of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over his comments over the strikes, wondering who will speak if not the Defence Minister on this issue.
Asked about the issue of triple talaq among Muslims, he said the party and the Centre remained firmly against it.
A section of Muslim clerics has lashed out at the government over its stand on the matter, presently being heard by the Supreme Court.
He, however, noted that the matter has been in courts since the UPA’s time and not “BJP-sponsored”.
If the issue flares up, it will only help the party, BJP leaders said.