Photo: Rajesh Kumar/HT
Photo: Rajesh Kumar/HT

Opposition throws down a challenge in UP, BJP to respond with NaMo

BJP hopes work done by NDA at centre and state levels for weaker sections will set the tone for LS polls

New Delhi: Preparing to counter the combined electoral strength of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 general elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides putting its house in order.

Senior BJP leaders are of the view that the work done by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) both at the centre and in the state for the socially and financially weaker sections will set the tone for the Lok Sabha elections. They said though Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) have raised concerns over certain issues, the two alliance partners will remain in the NDA and will contest the elections under Modi’s leadership.

“These two political parties, SP and BSP, have come together because they are weak and were concerned about the popularity of the Prime Minister. We are going to reach out to both Apna Dal and SBSP to address their concerns. Since SP and BSP have not accommodated the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in their alliance, there is no space for Apna Dal and SBSP in the opposition camp. NDA is stable and we will contest together," said a senior minister of the Uttar Pradesh government, requesting anonymity

BJP leaders also said that the SP-BSP alliance will help the BJP in its social outreach as the party will now try to reach out to members of the non-Yadav other backward classes (OBCs) and non-Jatav scheduled castes (SCs) to strengthen its support base.

“The Union government has provided 10% reservation for the general category and we will also be individually targeting the OBC and SC communities that are not aligned with the Yadavs and Jatavs, who are the main support base of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. We expect that this reverse polarization will help BJP expand its social and electoral base." said a BJP leader, requesting anonymity.

The battle for Uttar Pradesh in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls could prove to be decisive for both the opposition and the ruling alliance—the combination that wins the maximum seats in the state has a better chance of forming the government in Delhi. In the last one year, the SP-BSP combine have won the Lok Sabha byelections in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana, in a direct contest with the BJP.

The contest in Uttar Pradesh is also significant because NDA had won 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections and the state was instrumental in bringing the BJP to power nationally. The electoral importance of the state can also be understood from the fact that the Prime Minister had contested from Varanasi to boost BJP’s chances.

“All these political parties are joining hands because they know BJP is strong. The alliance between SP and BSP is against the basic nature of the two parties. They do not have an agenda for development, but it is their political need for survival," the BJP leader added.

BJP leaders also said that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will organize a “Dharam Sansad", a meeting of Hindu religious leaders in Prayagraj between 31 January and 1 February, which could prove to be significant since the religious gathering will discuss the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

“This is a tricky issue for the BJP since there is a demand to pass a law in Parliament, but the party is of the view that it will wait for the Supreme Court verdict. We will have to balance the demand of the people and the ongoing legal battle," said the BJP leader.

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