With Slight Tweak in Caste Formula, How BJP's UP Math Has Taken the Sheen Off SP-BSP Chemistry
Leaving no chance for the regional giants to take advantage of the caste factor, the party has made six changes in the first list of candidates.
PM Narendra Modi shakes hands with former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav looks on (PTI)
Lucknow: The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to take on the SP-BSP challenge with its new caste arithmetic for Uttar Pradesh. Leaving no chance for the regional giants to take advantage of the caste factor, the party has made six changes in the first list of candidates. While it has stuck to the tried and tested formula, there has been slight reconstruction to counter the joint Opposition with full force.
Maximum changes have been made on the reserved seats. Of the six changes, four have been on these seats. Most significant of them are Agra and Shahjahanpur. While senior leader and former Union minister Ram Shankar Katheria has been replaced by state cabinet minister SP Singh Baghel, in Shahjahanpur, Arun Sagar has been named in place of sitting MP and Union minister Krishna Raj.
"Katheria has been replaced by Baghel due to caste considerations. Agra is a reserved seat and with Baghel's candidature, a strong section of non-Jatav SC, will be managed in the region," a senior UP BJP leader said. BJP feels that in the west, following the BSP-SP alliance, the Jatav vote will considerably shift towards the Opposition.
The caste equations have also been reworked in Badaun. Against SP's Dharmedra Yadav, the party has brought in Sanghmitra Maurya, daughter of UP cabinet minsiter Swami Prasad Maurya.
Maurya had been a long time trusted aide of BSP chief Mayawati and senior leader of the BSP. By fielding his daughter from Badaun, BJP is trying to woo the people of non-Yadav backward community in the region. Yadavs, most likely, will be firmly tied to the Samajwadi Party.
Changes in the reserved seats of Hardoi and Misrikh has been because of non-performance. "There was adverse report against the sitting MPs from the two regions," said the senior BJP leader.
In fact, Sakshi Maharaj was so alarmed at the speculations of being denied a ticket from Unnao that he wrote to state party president, warning them against the move.
It seems that BJP kept faith in the two big names. Also, denial of ticket would have sent a message of a worried party in face of an alliance, especially considering Mathura's Jat factor and Unnao's OBC vote bank. In the SP-BSP-RLD tie-up, the Mathura seat has been allocated to the Rashtriya Lok Dal, raising alliance's hope of molding west UP's Jat vote bank.
Talking to News18, BJP spokesperson Chandramohan, who had also been a long time pracharak in West UP said, "The party has focused on winnability. Opposition alliance is no challenge for us. A few changes that have been made are because of electoral management. Every leader who is contesting or not contesting is a party karyakarta and is important in the larger schemes of things."
Clearly, with three ministers and a battery of other senior leaders re-contesting on their seats in west UP, the BJP has sent out a strong message.
Names of Union ministers Satyapal Singh from Baghpat, General VK Singh from Ghaziabad and Mahesh Sharma from Gautam Budh Nagar have been repeated in the list. Similarly, Raghav Lakhan Pal from Saharanpur, old-time RSS worker Rajendra Agarwal from Meerut and Jat leader Sanjeev Balyan, who is an accused in the 2013 riots, will be re-contesting from Muzaffarnagar.
The seat, which has yet not been finalised, is Kairana. A senior leader of the BJP said that it would be worked out soon. Kairana is a prestige seat that was lost to the alliance in bypolls.
Another significant announcement was Union minister Smriti Irani's candidature from Amethi.
While she was all certain to re-contest from the 'VVIP' constituency, from where Congress president Rahul Gandhi is an MP, the announcement holds significance in the sense that election in Amethi is in much later phase.
Obviously, the BJP has chosen the moment to send out a clear message to its biggest political adversary, the Congress party. The party wants its rivals to know that they are equally challenging and aggressive when it comes to real politics on the ground. Clearly, elections in Congress's own backyard has been made interesting.
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