BJP’s three-pronged strategy to counter Akhilesh’s social justice platform

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After several party leaders of the BJP defected to Samajwadi Party (SP), the saffron party seems to be on the back foot. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, however, is confident about the BJP’s victory in the upcoming polls and called the high-stakes poll battle as an “80 vs. 20 per cent” political fight.

The sudden spate of MLAs and ministers quitting the BJP does not seem to be ending very soon. SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav has managed to dealt a blow to the political fortunes of the saffron party ahead of the polls with Swami Prasad Maurya, a Cabinet Minister in the Yogi government, tendering his resignation on January 11. In a span of few days, three sitting ministers in the Yogi government, including 14 BJP MLAs, have resigned on successive days. Therefore, it becomes extremely crucial for the BJP to counter Akhilesh Yadav’s new political move.

BJP’s Achilles heel is that Akhilesh Yadav has started pitching the political narrative of ‘Forward vs Backward’ caste countering Yogi Adityanath’s ’80 vs 20 per cent’ jibe with this new political strategy. During the 2017 state Assembly elections, the BJP along with its alliance partners had won 325 seats by successful caste arithmetic of the traditional upper castes vote bank as well as non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalit voters voting in its favour.

In the 2017 state Assembly elections, the NDA got the support of 41.35 per cent of people. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the NDA in Uttar Pradesh secured 51.18 per cent of vote share, which has been described as a resounding poll victory of the BJP as it single-handedly won 62 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats.

But the new political ploy of Akhilesh Yadav pitting the upcoming polls as ‘Forwards vs backward castes’ fight has created a new problem for the BJP. Most of the BJP MLAs who have resigned from the party belong to the OBC community, on whose strength the saffron party has been winning consecutive elections in the state.

The BJP is well aware that if the Yadav, Jat and Muslim as well as OBC and Dalit voters support the SP-led opposition grand alliance, then the poll results will sway completely in SP’s favour. This is the reason why the BJP has come up with a new strategy to counter every political move of the SP.

With each passing day and as the BJP leaders and ministers keep quitting the party, Akhilesh Yadav is trying to set the political agenda that the BJP is going to lose the upcoming state elections and hence there is massive defection of leaders.

The BJP has tried to counter the SP by inducting Hari Om Yadav, who is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s father-in-law and former SP MLA, into the party. A senior BJP leader has even gone a step ahead claiming that a close member of Akhilesh Yadav’s family is going to join the saffron party in the coming days.

Apart from the SP, veteran BSP and Congress leaders have also been inducted in the BJP to send out a strong message that it is winning the UP polls.

The leaders, who recently quit the party, have accused the BJP of being anti-OBC and anti-Dalit party. The BJP has countered this allegation by releasing the first list of its poll candidates on Saturday by giving the maximum number of 44 tickets to OBC leaders and 19 leaders from the Scheduled Castes community.

To woo the Dalits, the BJP has fielded a candidate from the community on the general seat as well and has promised the same in the upcoming lists of candidates. The BJP has prepared a team of more than 20,000 OBC leaders in the state to expose those who have left the party ahead of the state polls. In the coming days, 50 OBC leaders and workers of the BJP will try to interact with OBC voters on each of the 403 Assembly seats in the state and expose those who left the party.

As per an estimate, the OBC voters constitute around 40 to 50 per cent of the population in Uttar Pradesh, 22 per cent comprises Dalit voters and 20 per cent form the Muslim population. Therefore, along with the OBCs, the BJP is making all efforts to keep the Dalit voters in its fold.

The BJP has also engaged its minority wing to make a dent in the SP’s vote bank — the Muslim community. The RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch is also running a campaign in Uttar Pradesh to woo Muslims towards the BJP.

With OBC leaders exiting the party, the BJP will once again project its charismatic and popular OBC face in the form of Narendra Modi before the people of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP will try to cash in on the popularity of Modi by projecting him as the face of the BJP while listing the steps taken by the Modi government for the welfare of the OBC community.

The BJP has also asked five party leaders and workers to interact door-to-door at all 1,74,351 booths in the state while reaching out to 3.5 crore families of the state who have benefited from the Central and state schemes implemented by the Modi and Yogi governments respectively.

Despite Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath contesting the upcoming state elections from Gorakhpur instead of Ayodhya, the BJP will continue to rake up Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura as part of their Hindutva agenda to thwart the SP’s ‘forward versus backward’ castes political strategy. The BJP’s effort will be to ensure that the people exercise their votes at the polling booth united as one community rather than as different castes.

The main effort of the BJP will be that all its party members exercise their votes in favour of the party. During the 2017 Assembly elections, the NDA had secured 325 seats by bagging around 3 crore 59 lakh votes, whereas the number of BJP members in the state was only around one crore 87 lakh.

In the last 5 years the BJP has rapidly expanded as an organisation in the state and at present, the number of BJP members in the state has crossed 3 crore 80 lakh. That’s why this time the BJP is fighting elections with a target of winning more than 300 seats in the state by securing votes of 4 crore people.

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