New Delhi: “With less than 45 days left for the polls, a temple cannot be built. Hence, this isn’t an issue. The main focus is development and good governance,” Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya told News18 on the day the Election Commission sounded the poll bugle for five states.
Maurya may have stated the obvious BJP line of Ram Temple not being an election issue, but a matter of faith. However, sources in the party say that the alleged mass exodus of Hindus from Kairana in western Uttar Pradesh will be an important election issue for the party.
News18 spoke to a number of leaders who have been involved in designing the BJP strategy and they did accept that the reason the BJP did well during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and managed a stunning 71 seats was because of its stellar performance in western Uttar Pradesh. Western UP has large pockets of Jats and minorities. In fact, Jats make up around 17% of the population. BJP chief Amit Shah who was personally managing and strategising in UP had also played on communal polarisation in western UP, which has been epicenter of deadly riots.
Hence, hoping for a repeat of 2014, the party will be going back to its tested script, but this time hiding it under the narrative of poor law and order under the Akhilesh Yadav tenure. Sources told News18 that the alleged exodus of the majority community will be a primary narrative for the party in this election. Another reason is that the BJP doesn’t want to irk the Supreme Court, which recently passed a stricture that political parties cannot seek votes in the name of religion and caste.
Sources said Ram Mandir may not be an issue, but in case it is raked up by other parties, then the BJP has its response ready. According to top leaders, the BJP is in direct contest with either the BSP or the SP in over 350 of the 403 assembly seats, with the common factor being the BJP.
Two days after the PM’s rally in Lucknow where he scripted the line for the party this election —ending the “14 year vanvas (exile) of development because of misgovernance of the BSP and the SP government” — the party is now looking at the narrative that will get them the votes. Keshav Maurya also told News18 that every BJP worker is a potential CM face, and whether the party names a CM candidate or not, it will win UP.
Here’s the full interview with Keshav Prasad Maurya:
The election is happening in seven phases, starting with western UP, moving to eastern UP. How prepared is the BJP?
We welcome the dates put forth by the Election Commission. BJP is totally prepared. Our workers are also ready and so are the people of UP. They want good riddance from the BSP and SP’s mismanagement. People gave their verdict in 2014 itself... Now we want to repeat that. All of our initiatives focusing on elections have been successful. The rally on January 2 was also successful. The PM’s top agenda is welfare of poor people.
How will you assess the impact of demonetisation? Will it be right to say it’s a referendum?
People who have opposed note ban or who are opposing it still are just supporters of corrupt people. And aam janta is aware of this. People have already punished such supporters, and there is more to come. This decision was taken for the poor and those opposing it will be punished by the people.
The rift between Akhilesh and Mulayam — how are you seeing this?
Lotus (BJP’s party symbol) stands for development. I request the people to choose kamal (lotus) this time. It’s time to get rid of corruption, family feud, mafia and goonda raj.
Will the BJP project any CM candidate?
Every BJP worker is a potential CM face. Whether the central committee decides on a CM face or not, the BJP will come to power with majority. We will win more than 300 seats.
Is Ram Mandir a poll issue?
Just 45 days are left for the elections and mandir can’t be built. Hence, this is not the issue. Main focus is on development and good governance.