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Can 'Subtle Polarisation' and Brand Modi help BJP in Phase 6 of UP polls?

In BJP's bastion of Gorakhpur, dominated by hardliner Hindutva politician Mahant Adityanath, there is a place called Halsiganj nicknamed as 'Border'. This because Halsiganj has come to be seen as a virtual divide between the majority-minority demographic realities of the city. Here, CNN News18 caught up with the controversial politician, while he addressed an election meeting.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:February 28, 2017, 3:31 PM IST
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Can 'Subtle Polarisation' and Brand Modi help BJP in Phase 6 of UP polls?
File photo of BJP leader Yogi Adityanath addressing a rally. Image: Reuters
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Halsiganj, Gorakhpur: In BJP's bastion of Gorakhpur, dominated by hardliner Hindutva politician Yogi Adityanath, there is a place called Halsiganj nicknamed as 'Border'.

This because Halsiganj has come to be seen as a virtual divide between the majority-minority demographic realities of the city. Here, CNN News18 caught up with the controversial politician, while he addressed an election meeting.

As Adityanath roared, racking up the Hindu-Muslim Card, talking about kabristans and shamshan ghats, Muslim shrines and Hindu temples and Promising Modi-like Government in UP where appeasement will be replaced by 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas'‎, a sense of unease was evident in the air.

By the time Adityanath concluded with slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram’, there was also no doubt left about BJP's core strategy in the eastern parts of the state. Subtle communal polarisation along with 'Brand Modi'.

It's on the basis of this two pronged approach that the BJP hopes to break in the strong citadel of the Samajwadi Party, going to polls in Phase six on 4th February.

The region going to polls include 49 constituencies in districts of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Deoria, Kushinagar, Azamgarh, Mau ‎ and Balia. The SP-Congress together dominate the region as of now. In 2012, SP has won 27 out of these 49 seats while the Congress won four.

BSP had won four while BJP could manage just seven seats, out of which three were in Gorakhpur and one each in Maharajganj, Deoria, Kushinagar and Ballia respectively.

A unique aspect of the region is that it is dominated by bigwigs in different pockets. In Gorakhpur division, comprising Gorakhpur, Maharajganj and Deoria districts, Adityanath is a major factor.

In Mau and Gazipur, it's Mukhtar Ansari. Azamgarh is strong hold of SP Patron Mulayam Singh Yadav. He is also a MP from here. Balia had been an old centre of the Socialist Movement, going from being the bastion of left politics till early 1980's. However, this time, old and influential socialist leaders of the region, Ambika Chowdhry and Narad Rai, are with the BSP.

Professor Kumar Harsh from Gorakhpur University, who also works as a freelance journalist for the BBC, said, ”Despite Having swept the entire region in 2014 General election, BJP realises it's limitations in the caste and personality dominated region of the east. That's one big reason why we see the strategy of subtle communal polarisation being adopted by the party.”

“Demographically, Muslims are less in number in the Phase six region, making just around 14 percent of the total population. Strategy of silent communal polarisation can therefore help BJP to cut across the castes riding on a broader Majority Hindu Identity,” he said.

Apart from this majority mobilisation strategy, BJP is also banking heavily on the achievements of three years of the Modi government and the Brand Modi. Schemes like Jan Dhan Yojna, Ujjwala Yojna seem to have made an impression among people in this economically backward region. The party is also keen take advantage of ‘the Modi magic’ to its maximum in Phase six and Phase seven.

That's the reason why the Prime Minister was in Mau on 27th Feburary and will be in Maharajganj and Deoria on the 1st of March.

Samajwadi party and BSP, however, fully realise BJP's strategy. That was the reason why UP Chief Minister and SP president Akhilesh Yadav took time off from his hectic schedule and met the press in Lucknow on 26th Feb, only to target the BJP and Modi. The 'BJP concern' was clearly on his mind. All through his press conference he tried to bring back the electoral narrative back on the development front, accusing BJP and Prime Minister of resorting to communal polarisation. Mayawati too had been hitting out hard against the BJP, going to extent of slamming BJP president Amit Shah of being the real 'KASAB'.

In the clearly triangular electoral battle of Uttar Pradesh, it is make or break in the warzone of east UP. The remaining 100-odd seats in Phase six and rest in Phase seven can make the difference. ‎While the BJP is desperate to retain its hold of its gains in 2014, SP-Congress alliance battles hard to save its bastion. Mayawati, a lone general for her party, works tirelessly to outsmart the two riding on her Dalit-Muslim outreach and her better track record in governance and law and order.

| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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