Ahead of the high octane Uttar Pradesh poll battle, the spotlight has shifted to the political faces in both the teams which have now geared up. The BJP decided to field Yogi Adityanath from his pocket borough of Gorakhpur. The party has played safe and has not exposed the Chief Minister to new turf so he can campaign extensively in the entire state, though there is no clarity whether rival and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will contest or not.
Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh has taken the lead in the first lap by inducting BJP rebels and stitching together alliances, and the team line up seems strong which can score in the slog overs and in the opening of the match.
In the opening round of voting the SP-RLD combine with Jayant Chaudhary taking the lead looks very strong with the Jats-Muslims backing them in the backdrop of the farmers agitation. It is said that the year long agitation has filled the wedge between the community and the combine is backed by the Mahan Dal, a party which has a presence in the backward community in western Uttar Pradesh.
Then there is Krishna Patel, mother of Union Minister Anupriya Patel, who can shift some Kurmi votes towards the SP alliance, though her daughter-led faction is with the NDA. Akhilesh has also taken along his uncle Shivpal Yadav to stop a division of votes in his own community. For eastern UP he has got together a deadly combine which can hit a six on each ball and put up a good score on the board. He has O.P. Rajbhar from the SBSB and has inducted Swami Prasad Maurya and other BJP defectors into the party fold.
But this doesn’t mean that the line up for Team Yogi is not strong though their opening has not been good due to defections. But Yogi, Swatantra Dev Singh and Keshav Maurya are good at striking and are backed by Anupriya Patel of a Kurmi-based party and Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad party — both these leaders can give a good back up to the BJP at crucial times.
Apart from the initial team, the BJP has Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is capable of destroying opponents in no time with his pace attack and a strategist like Amit Shah backed by a battery of BJP leaders.
But the pitch may not be familiar this time to the BJP as Akhilesh and team want the game to be played on the Backward-OBC issue. The BJP has been an expert at “Hindutva ” backed by the “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” slogan. It is also good at social engineering and the party on Saturday highlighted the number of tickets it has given to OBC and SCs in the first list of candidates.
But the BJP defectors are out to spoil their former party’s prospects in the elections. Swami Prasad Maurya accused the BJP of coming to power in 2017 by duping the backward castes. “I want to tell the BJP that its countdown to failure begins today,” Maurya said.
But the game is not easy as the BJP has an election machine which has a good strike rate and has won three major elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2014, 2017 and 2019 (Lok Sabha).