Lucknow: Irrespective of its performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP in UP could never really recover from two political developments in the nineties: The alliance between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram in 1993 and Kalyan Singh’s rebellion.
The party in every subsequent elections since 1991 dropped seats. In 2012, the party met its Waterloo when the tally fell below 50 in the House of 403.
In many ways, thus, 2017 Assembly polls were an opportunity for the BJP to redeem itself. Here any references to the 2014 blockbuster victory are irrelevant. It's like comparing apples with oranges. Every election is unique in itself.
Learning from the past, especially from the drubbing it received in Bihar, BJP in UP worked hard in the one year to ensure mobilisation of its core vote bank. Booth committees and in-charge were nominated in over 1.25 lakh booths out of a total 1.47 lakh polling stations in the state. Over 13 lakh booth workers were mobilised across the state. Sunil Bansal, the RSS pracharak on deputation to the BJP over saw the entire process.
“Bansal though stationed in Lucknow was in town hardly 3 to 4 days a month. He was constantly on the move visiting each district and creating the bulwark for the campaign launch,” says a BJP leader in Delhi.
BJP this time also kept in mind social composition of the state and the demographic in selecting office bearers at district and block levels. Almost 40 percent of the posts were filled with OBC and nearly 20 with Dalit candidates.
In ticket distribution also, it learnt from Bihar and gave tickets to just about a dozen Yadav candidates. The focus was on upper caste and non-Yadav OBC. Almost one third of the party candidates were Brahmins and Rajputs. BJP now baited more than 130 non Yadav OBCs and over 80 Dalits in this election.
And finally, towards the end, it all boiled down to naming a CM candidate. Initially it was felt that party should project a strong leader to match Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. Rajnath Singh's name did rounds for a few months. But later it was felt it is better to fight it out in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the late nineties, Kalyan Singh, after a protracted battle with the then PM AB Vajpayee was looking for an opportunity to leave BJP. Amidst the protracted drama in Lucknow, journalist asked him about the next move. Kalyan Singh referred to a political analysis in a national daily headlined 'Kalyan Singh must speak fast, and Kalyan Singh must speak caste'.
It has taken BJP more than a decade for the BJP get the social engineering right in UP after Kalyan Singh's broke away to launch his Rashtriya Kranti Party.