PM Modi: Don’t take Opposition lightly
PM Modi: Don’t take Opposition lightly
At the holy city of Prayag, the BJP gave a glimpse of its strategy for the coming electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh. While development will be its main plank, its leaders will also make sure that the Kairana incident is highlighted in the state, where polarisation is a tool often used by political outfits. Hindu families are reportedly migrating from this minority-dominated town, not far from Allahabad, the venue of the BJP’s national executive, alleging attacks and extortion from members of the community.
The recent violence in Mathura also came up at the meeting, and the BJP criticised UP’s ruling Samajwadi Party over its failure to check the incident when it had prior inputs. The Mathura incident will also be one of the key poll issues for the BJP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the leaders and cadre on Sunday, urged them not to take the Opposition lightly and to connect with the masses, particularly the youth, while BJP president Amit Shah claimed that his party’s aim was to form the next government in Lucknow. Mr Modi also asked party leaders to come up with and implement innovative ideas and to change with the times. The BJP has set a “Mission 265-plus” target for the UP elections.
The BJP president said the Congress was “increasingly weakening” and that its “atrophy was growing at an alarming pace due to its policy of repeatedly obstructing the government’s path to development” in the past two years.
Though the BJP claimed it will be its highest decision-making body, the parliamentary board, that will take the final call on who would be its chief ministerial candidate, a section in the party wants home minister Rajnath Singh to be the saffron party’s “face”. Speculation is rife that the BJP will seek feedback from its cadre on this issue as many in the party feel projecting a chief ministerial candidate would only brighten its electoral prospects. But there are also fears that projecting a “face” in UP could go against it as the caste factor plays a dominant role in UP’s politics. The BJP’s core vote base in this backward caste-dominated state consists mainly of brahmins, baniyas and thakurs, who together comprise less than 35 per cent of the electorate.
Interestingly, many posters around the meeting venue prominently displayed BJP youth leader and Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi. When asked if he could be the party’s CM face, senior leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that “only the parliamentary board will decide on this matter”. The photographs of former party general secretary Sanjay Joshi were also prominently displayed near the venue. At the meeting that was inaugurated by the PM and Mr Shah, party leaders were told to highlight the achievements of the NDA government. The party’s performance in the recent Assembly polls was also appreciated, including its first government in the Northeast, in Assam. The BJP said it wants to expand in the Coramandal region and the election results were a “happy beginning for a good future”. It also attacked the Congress and the earlier UPA government over various issues, including corruption and policy paralysis.
Asked specifically about the Kairana issue, and that it was a polarising matter, Mr Prasad said it was a law and order problem. He also said if the UP government was denying there was any mass exodus from the area, it “showed their mindset”. A nine-member BJP team will visit Kairna on June 15 to take stock. He also clarified that Ram Mandir was not an electoral issue but related to faith. He also attacked the Akhilesh Yadav government for failing on the governance and development fronts. Mr Prasad also said the BJP chief had told party leaders that the Congress was losing ground across the country. Mr Shah said obstruction on the path of development had become a “hallmark of the Congress”. He also clarified that the BJP’s rise was not proportional to the Congress’ decline but that its rise in the political spectrum wad due to its ideology, cadre dedication and strong conduct of the organisation and government. Mr Shah said crucial elections were lined up next year, including in UP, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, and said if the BJP continues to expand like was doing, it would retain power at the Centre in 2019 by winning a larger number of Lok Sabha constituencies.
Mr Shah also said the country’s development could not take place without UP being developed . Before the inauguration of the national executive at K.P. College campus, Mr Shah held a meeting of the party’s office-bearers and met the UP leadership separately.