In a tight contest being fought inch by inch, the BJP is banking on its booth management capabilities to repeat its 2014 performance in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Fourteen and 13 seats in eastern UP go to the polls in the last two phases on May 12 and 19, respectively, and the BJP, along with ally Apna Dal, had won nearly all of them.
While admitting that the BSP-SP-RLD alliance has given it a “real fight” and posed a “big challenge” in the state, top BJP leaders said the party’s “48-hour booth management”, which gives last-mile connectivity to convert the “goodwill” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi into votes will be the crucial factor in the final phases.
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The party looks at 48-hour booth management as a process in which party workers focus on polling during the two days between end of campaigning and the D-day.
As part of the programme, each party worker will be handed over a sheet of paper — called “parivar parchi” — with names of the head of families in his or her area, and the worker has to contact the families to remind them about voting on polling day. As part of this, the party worker will call up these people and also touch base with them on social media.
According to assessment of the BJP’s top leadership, 60 per cent of ground support in the state lies with Modi and the party, and what would eventually matter would be “how to bring voters to the booth” to convert this support into votes.
A senior BJP leader said the leadership feels that in a scenario where the victory margins could be low, the party’s organisational strength in converting ground support to votes matters the most.
The tightly contested election in UP has brought to the fore what this leader called is the “new” BJP. “This is not the BJP of Atal Bihari Vajpayee or L K Advani. Both Modi and Amit Shah have a very different approach to elections – they fight every battle like a war; they do not spare anything and don’t give up until the last moment,” the leader, who has been active with electioneering in at least three states, said. “Both leaders have brought in a new attitude to BJP, and the new atmosphere is only to see success — every inch is going to be fought over.”
A team of top party leaders, including Shah, monitors the situation in UP on an everyday basis, the leader said. “When the election campaign began, the party had started (by looking at certain victories) on 30 seats, as we were aware of challenges posed by the (SP-BSP) alliance. But things are improving every day. In the last assessment, the BJP will easily cross the 50-seat mark in UP,” this leader claimed.
With strategies prepared for every constituency individually, the cards are played accordingly – be it caste equation, nationalism, or communal polarisation.
BJP leaders acknowledged that the SP and the BSP have been successful in backing each other and transferring votes to the other’s candidates. “But booth-level management of the BJP is super-human. No other party does that level of booth management,” one party leader said.
The booth committees, the sector committees and the mandal units, active on ground for months, are trying to ensure that every possible voter is listed, voter slips are distributed, and the party’s message reaches as many voter as is possible, leaders said. “But the last-mile connectivity has become very important in UP now. We are ensuring man-to-man marking,” a party leader who is working in the state said.
Exuding confidence about the results, the senior party leader attributed BJP’s optimism to Hindu mythology. “In Hindu mythology, whoever does hard work is rewarded, irrespective of his or her character, deeds or background. Hindu Gods will provide the most dangerous weapons to even demons if he does tapasya and prayers. So the question is who works more intensely,” the leader said.