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BJP UP Manifesto an Attempt to Fine Tune a Narrative Gone Awry

Seeking to crystallise its poll pitch for the high stake battle in Uttar Pradesh, BJP it seems has decided to dust out its original blueprint seeking to target Akhilesh Yadav government’s credentials on law and order front.

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Updated:January 28, 2017, 7:37 PM IST
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BJP UP Manifesto an Attempt to Fine Tune a Narrative Gone Awry
A file image of BJP President Amit Shah.
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New Delhi: Seeking to crystallise its poll pitch for the high stake battle in Uttar Pradesh, BJP it seems has decided to dust out its original blueprint seeking to target Akhilesh Yadav government’s credentials on law and order front.

The 32-page party manifesto promises something for everyone, but President Amit Shah’s speech at the release of the document indicates renewed attempt to fine tune a narrative gone awry over the last three months.

For the crucial first phase of polls in western UP, which has seen communal polarisation in the last three years, BJP has though attempted to rake up the Kairana migration issue and promised to close down mechanised abattoirs if elected to rule the state. Of these, the first one has been linked to the larger law and order problem in the state.

On development front, BJP has if anything sought to equal or even better promises made by the incumbent dispensation.

Six months back, when BJP set out to finalise its strategy for UP, it was apparent that party was planning to replicate the campaign model drafted for 2014 general polls.

The first and the basic fundamental of this strategy is to challenge the party in power by building a discourse around omissions and commissions of the government. The second phase of the campaign is knit around a larger alternative theme which in such cases is revolves around ‘hope’ or any other derivative that promises seeking to radically alter the prevailing situation.

It was a time when Bulandshahr rapes had hit the headlines and police fought a pitched battle against a cult guru and his followers right in the heart of Mathura.

It was all going in the right direction when the Yadav family saga flared up in Lucknow. The protracted fight for control in SP was meticulously used by Akhilesh Yadav to create a Us vs Them divide within. And like every film script, for every hero there is a villain who is vanquished for the larger good.

This fast developing SP saga was so gripping that it overwhelmed the media space for a good four months, the denouement coming in the middle of January with EC allocating cycle symbol to Akhilesh.

In the meantime, BJP dabbled with two other issues, seeking to test waters in poll-bound states: surgical strikes across the border and the other on black money.

Within days of the army’s assault on terror launch-pads, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was in Agra and Lucknow and was being felicitated in public functions. This was followed by Prime Minister’s visit to Lucknow on Dusserra. And speaking at the famous Aishbagh Ramlila, Modi delivered a powerful speech replete with symbolism on the victory over good over evil.

For a month or so it appeared as if this would be the thrust of BJP campaign in UP.

Then came November, and a much larger strike on black money was unveiled. It was said to be fight to weed out terror funds and unaccounted wealth.

Demonetisation was projected as the great leveler, a la Garibi Hatao moment aimed at pitchforking the BJP to other side of the class divide.

Three months later when the party releases its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patr for UP great care has been taken to address any impact of the entire exercise on the rural economy. Small and marginal farmers have been promised loan waiver.

But the emphasis in the days ahead it seems would be on questioning SP government’s credentials on law and order front. Especially women’s security. And corruption.

As Amit Shah said on Akhilesh-Rahul Gandhi jugalbandi- “ek ne desh ko loota aur doosre ne Pradesh ko”.

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