Thursday, Jun 20, 2024 | Last Update : 08:14 PM IST

  India   Politics  04 Mar 2017  Modi card over-played in UP? BJP gets worried

Modi card over-played in UP? BJP gets worried

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 4, 2017, 3:03 am IST
Updated : Mar 4, 2017, 6:57 am IST

Following the Bihar experience, the BJP strategists had decided not to overplay the Prime Minister in UP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed at an election rally with a garland by BJP leaders in Mirzapur. (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed at an election rally with a garland by BJP leaders in Mirzapur. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: A debate is raging within the BJP on whether the party has overexposed Narendra Modi in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

Following the Bihar experience, the BJP strategists had decided not to overplay the Prime Minister in UP. But after the SP-Congress alliance, the electoral scenario in UP changed and the BJP apparently had “no option but to rely on the Prime Minister” and the saffron think tank decided to increase his rallies in the state from 10 to 22.

Saffron leaders are now worried that if the BJP fails to emerge as the single largest party in the state, the image and charisma of the Prime Minister will take a major hit and this may have an adverse impact on the party during the 2019 general elections.

Initially, with the SP family feud raging and the Congress in total disarray, the BJP was confident of sweeping the polls. At that time it was decided “not to overplay” the Modi card and keep the PM’s rallies to a maximum of 10 in the state.

A tacit attempt was also being made to find a chief ministerial candidate and some top leaders were keen on the home minister, Rajnath Singh. While Mr Singh made it clear that there was “no need for a CM face,” the SP-Congress alliance somewhat “unnerved” the party, sources said.

The BJP then had no option but to fall back on its mascot and vote catcher, Mr Narendra Modi, and a decision was taken to increase the number of his rallies by 12, sources revealed.

The move, however, has upset a section of BJP spin doctors, who say that if “things go wrong” it would hit the party hard, particularly the Prime Minister. This section was against “over exposing” the Prime Minister as the Assembly polls, particularly in UP, were also being viewed as a mini-referendum on Mr Modi’s demonetisation policy.

“A lot is at stake. After Bihar elections we should have been cautious and not overplayed the Modi card,” a senior BJP leader said.

With the absence of a wave and no clear winner emerging, the apprehension that the party has “over played” the Modi is gaining momentum in the saffron camp.

And after reports started reaching the party headquarters that demonetisation had failed to have the desired impact, the BJP tweaked its strategy and decided to press on the polarisation politics, a senior leader from eastern UP told this newspaper.

On Thursday, flanked by Hindutva hawk and party MP Yogi Adityanath, BJP president Amit Shah organised a road show in Gorakhpur and as the cavalcade passed Muslim dominated areas  Kasraghat and Alinagar, communal and divisive slogans — “Ek hi naara, ek hi naara, jai Sri Ram, jai Sri Ram” and “Gorakhpur mein rehna hai, yogi yogi kehna hai” — rent the air. There were also reports of communal clashes in Lakhimperi Kheri in UP.

Yogi Adityanath recently went on record saying that if the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh, “Ram temple will be built in Ayodhya.”

Tags: narendra modi, uttar pradesh assembly polls, sp-congress alliance, rajnath singh
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi