THE BJP leadership has decided to project the ruling SP as its main rival in Uttar Pradesh, but a section of party leaders apprehend that the aggressive pitch on “jungle raj” and law and order issues while publicly dismissing the BSP might not have the right impact.
Party sources said the current line — decided at the just-concluded national executive meeting in Allahabad — is to unleash an aggressive attack on the state government and confuse the not-so-committed BSP voters, especially Muslims and EBCs. Taking up law and order issue could help the party take advantage of the anti-incumbency factor, according to BJP leaders. Projecting the battle as between the BJP and SP could confuse those who have a tendency to lean towards the winning party in their choice between BJP and BSP, they said.
“Mayawati cannot form the government with 20 per cent votes — her committed support base. The BSP wants a large section of Muslim, upper caste and some non-Jatav Dalit votes, too. Many of these voters stand with the winning party,” said a BJP leader involved in strategising for UP.
This confusion, the BJP calculates, could divide the Muslims, who form 18.5 per cent of the state’s population and are considered to influence at least 40 per cent of the Lok Sabha constituencies. Dalit communities like Pasis (the second largest Dalit sub-caste influential in central and eastern UP) and OBCs like Kurmis (the second largest OBC community after the Yadavs concentrated in eastern districts), Lodhs, Mauryas/Kushwaha could also favour the BJP if there is a perception that the fight is with the SP.
BJP leaders said that keeping the BSP away from campaign rhetoric and dismissing it as a not-so-strong rival could damage its image as a feasible alternative, at least to these voters.
However, there are other views, too. According to a BJP leader from UP, “counting on anti-incumbency votes” might not be feasible as the BJP itself could be at the receiving end. “We cannot rule out the incumbency factor playing against our MPs. Besides, when we take an aggressive posture against ‘jungle raj’, we must not forget that Mayawati proved to be a bold administrator who could maintain law and order,” the leader said. “Neither Mayawati nor the BSP was ever affected by the campaign in the media or social media,” he added.
In Allahabad, local BJP leaders admitted that the “hype” the party and the government had been creating over the Centre’s achievements may not yield the desired results “unless people started enjoying the benefits of the government initiatives”.