Is the Assam verdict assuring enough to get complacent over BJP’s chances and challenges in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in India with maximum Lok Sabha and assembly seats and therefore with the maximum count of Rajya Sabha claims?
Has BJP not committed blunder by appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya, a Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur constituency in Allahabad district, a virtually unknown face in the power corridors so far, either in Uttar Pradesh, or in Delhi?
Couldn’t BJP find a known face in Uttar Pradesh? Irrespective of credentials and controversies associated with Keshav Prasad Maurya, it goes without saying that even many supporters of BJP did not know much about him before his coronation.
Are the credentials of being an OBC, his association with RSS and hailing from a humble background enough to mobilize votes in India’s most populous state where the ruling party of India of the day was forced to the third spot with a meagre 47 seats out of 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh? Also, Uttar Pradesh is the state from where BJP began its journey to where it is in India’s political circles now.
And what about the baggage Maurya carries? He may have a humble background, but now he is a millionaire with multiple criminal cases lodged against him. His 2014 Lok Sabha affidavit declared assets worth Rs. 9 crore. To name a few, he has a filling station and a private hospital in partnership. Certainly not a saleable package politically (and electorally)!
Before appointing Mauyra, did BJP factor in why it performed so brilliantly in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, and why it has lost every subsequent bye-election in the state?
Although it is slipping beyond any possible damage control exercise now, has the BJP introspected about why it ignored Uttar Pradesh since winning the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?
A natural corollary to the previous question is – are the BJP strategists, including Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the RSS leadership, confident enough that they have sufficient time to regain the lost ground and so to reclaim the state – nine odd months now – when the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are to be held?
A sub-question to that is – does BJP feel honestly that is has lost the much ground it gained during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014? That is the key to do any exercise that it intends to do now – to map the trajectory ahead.
It is beyond speculation that Keshav Prasad Maurya cannot be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee. Although he hails from the Kushwaha community (OBC), that forms around 8% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, he is simply not magnetic enough to pull a significant chunk of OBC voters from a population segments that is 40% of the total. What is then the basis of projecting him as the OBC face of BJP in Uttar Pradesh?
Can Keshav Prasad Maurya successfully play the OBC card by equating himself with prime minister Narendra Modi, an OBC and a Chaiwala like him (as Maurya claims), given the fact that BJP has not performed well, in Jayapur, Varanasi’s village adopted by Narendra Modi where BJP lost local village polls recently and in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency?
And the natural extension to all this is – who will then be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee? Obviously, it should be someone from the upper caste communities who have been traditional BJP voters. The upper caste voters were an important factor behind Mayawati’s caste/social engineering in 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh that gave her complete majority. This time also, Mayawati and her party BSP are ahead in the race, as the projections so far say, and therefore, retaining upper caste voters will be a problem for BJP, especially when its new state president has replaced a Brahmin, Laxmikant Bajpai from Meerut. Names of claimants are already doing rounds – Varun Gandhi or Smriti Irani or even Rajnath Singh – or will it be someone else? Certainly, here Amit Shah cannot prop anyone like Keshav Prasad Maurya and it is going to be a difficult decision to take.
And these are just the primary questions BJP needs to introspect before beginning on any activity in Uttar Pradesh. The party needs to take a top-down approach here because there isn’t enough time left for reorganization (and restructuring) of the party and the party should hope it works for bottom-up issues – like galvanizing cadres and district units – to do their best for the names the party finalizes.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/