No CM Face, It Could be 'Brand Modi' and 'Hindutva' for BJP in UP Polls
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in aishbagh Lucknow, on Vijayadashmi.
Lucknow: Barely a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the famous Aishbagh Ramleela in Lucknow on Vijayadashmi, it is now official that BJP pins hope majorly on 'Brand Modi' in the coming UP elections.
Within a week of PM Modi's Lucknow visit, it is now official that there will be no CM face of the party in the UP polls scheduled for 2017.
BJP's state president Keshav Maurya categorically said that the party will contest the polls in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another BJP stalwart from UP Rajya sabha MP Vinay Katiyar too emphasised on the need of contesting on the basis of 'Brand Modi'.
"Giving a CM face will only lead to complications in the state so deeply divided on caste lines. Party should contest polls only in name of PM Modi and the good work done by the central government.", Katiyar said.
However, apart from the 'Brand Modi' plank, another issue which is now resurfacing, can be seen as a subtle call to Hindutva.
While a section of BJP leaders are racking up the Ram temple issue, the Union government is out with grand agenda for Ram Museum in Faizabad.
During his Vijayadashmi address as Prime Minister recalled Lord Buddha, emphasizing on 'Yudha to Buddha' and asserting on India's inherent desire for World peace, along with a strong resolve to fight terrorism, no one could raise a finger pointing 'concerns for political gains' being played out in his speech.
For the political opponents who expected the Prime Minister to respond to recent politics being played out over surgical strikes in POK, or harping over something which might be linked to BJP's focus on upcoming UP Polls, the speech was a disappointment.
'Brand Modi' in itself looked like a challenge to fully grasp with and counter, for the opposition.
What is this 'Brand Modi'?
Political thinker and former Head of Department of Political Science at Lucknow University, Professor Ramesh Dixit defines Brand Modi as 'Confluence of Hindutva and Politics'.
"The very fact that Prime Minister chose Lucknow as a venue for Vijayadashami, over many bigger Dushehrra celebrations like that of Mysuru, is indicative of the politics behind the scenes. A dangerous game of mixing religion and politics is being played out. So while Modi might have spoken as a statesman, those words were just a camouflage for real intentions."
A senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh, not willing to be named, accepted that it is this image of 'Hindutva and Statesman' that defines 'Brand Modi', and it is on the basis of this brand value that the party hopes to succeed in the upcoming assembly polls.
PM Modi's choices are subtly indicative of his Hindutva image, even though his words portray him as a world leader and a seasoned statesman who speaks about all 125 crore Indians, development and fighting global terrorism.
While the Prime Minister might have chosen to subtly associate himself with Hindutva by his appearance in Lucknow's Ramleela, his government and party are now openly endorsing it.
But how instrumental will 'Brand Modi' and an open endorsement of 'Hindutva' be in helping the Bhartiya Janata Party in a state divided on the lines of caste and community? Whether they will be able to over rule the caste equations and forge a broader Hindu identity is a question yet to be answered.
While BSP chief Mayawati continues to have a strong hold on Dalits, BJP has by and large been successful to woo the upper castes and large sections of the hindu backward castes. Likes of former MP Brijesh Pathak and Swami Prasad Maurya exiting BSP to join BJP, reinstates this belief.
Brijesh Pathak, however, denies the caste considerations stating "people from all castes and communities are looking towards BJP and Prime Minister Modi. The trend which started in 2014 will further strengthen in 2017."