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This is the BJP’s 2019 plan for Uttar Pradesh following loss after loss in bypolls

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BJP seems to have realised that it may not be able to repeat its 2014 performance in the state, eyes just 50 Lok Sabha seats.

New Delhi: Beaten to the finish line by a united opposition in Uttar Pradesh once again, the BJP has already started analysing the bypoll results and drawing up a strategy to minimise possible losses in the crucial state in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, ThePrint has learnt.

According to BJP sources, the party is aware that it “will not be possible to repeat its 2014 performance”, when it stunned everyone by winning 71 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, but its aim is to mitigate the losses and “reach a tally of around 50 seats”.

The party’s calculation is that if it manages to touch 50, it would mean no other party in the state will have more than 10-15 seats individually, thus reducing their bargaining power.

“We will have to make up for remaining 20-odd seat loss elsewhere. If not 20, then at least 10-15 can be compensated for in the south and northeast,” a party source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The BJP Thursday lost the bypolls in the Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly seats in UP after the opposition came together. In Kairana, the RLD candidate — backed by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) — defeated the BJP. In Noorpur, the SP candidate won the election.

These losses come barely a few months after the BJP was defeated by a united opposition in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls in March. Gorakhpur, in fact, was a particularly embarrassing defeat given it is chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s own turf.

Uttar Pradesh is perhaps the most electorally crucial state, sending the single largest chunk of MPs to the 543-member Lok Sabha. For the BJP — given UP was in a way responsible for comfortably catapulting it to power in 2014 — a combined opposition of the SP, BSP, RLD and Congress is not the best of news.

BJP’s calculations

The party has been quick to sift through data related to Thursday’s results to draw its conclusions. As per the party’s estimates, its losses in terms of the votes it has polled in these by-elections can be easily covered. In Kairana, the party won 5,65,909 votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 4,36,564 votes in the bypoll.

The combined opposition, meanwhile, got 5,32,201 votes in 2014 (adding votes polled by SP, BSP and RLD which fought here) and 4,81,182 votes in this bypoll. Effectively, the BJP lost out around 1.3 lakh votes this time.

In the Noorpur assembly seat, the BJP had got 79,172 votes in the 2017 assembly elections and 89,213 votes now, while the combined opposition had won 1,13,149 votes then and 94,875 now.

In Kairana, the BJP’s vote share has dropped, but still stands at a healthy 46.5 per cent. In Noorpur, it feels it lost by a respectable margin of 6,200 votes.

Future strategy

Armed with these numbers, the BJP feels it isn’t as if the mood has decisively turned against it in the state, and if it gets its strategy and calculations right, it can halt the rival coalition.

To begin with, the party’s main focus will be on ensuring its core voters come out to vote for it in 2019. The BJP believes in all these bypolls its own voters “showed apathy and did not bother to come to vote for it since there was no government being elected”.

The turnout in Kairana and Noorpur bypolls also dipped. Kairana recorded a 54 per cent polling, almost 18 percentage points less than 2014. In Noorpur, it went down from around 67 per cent in 2017 to 61 per cent now. The story in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls was similar — showing low turnouts of 43 per cent and 37.4 per cent respectively, down from 54.65 per cent and 50.16 per cent in 2014.

“No doubt, our own voters are not as enthused about us as they used to be, which is why they didn’t bother to come vote for us,” said another party leader.

“But it most certainly does not mean they have turned against us. Focus in 2019 has to be to ensure this indifference doesn’t continue, and we convince our voters to come out given they will be instrumental in electing a central government,” the leader added.

BJP’s ‘trump card’

The party is relying heavily on its trump card — PM Modi — who is expected to campaign extensively ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, unlike his absence in the bypoll campaigns. However, the PM did take out a roadshow as part of the inauguration of the first leg of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway last Sunday, just a day before the bypolls.

Even though he may not have campaigned directly, the messaging of this roadshow wasn’t lost on anyone.

The BJP is banking on the fact that 2019 being an election to pick the Prime Minister will change the game. According to BJP sources, the voter may not be too enthused to vote for a motley group of opposition without a PM face.

Similarly, the party feels there may be more eagerness to vote for Modi as PM in the general elections than to vote for BJP in a bypolls.

Further, the party’s additional vote in UP is the “non-Yadav OBC”. The opposition has learnt precisely this. The SP put up a Nishad in Gorakhpur, Kurmi in Phulpur and allied with a Jat party in Kairana. The BJP’s aim is, thus, to protect its upper caste vote while ensuring its non-Yadav OBC vote bank remains.

For this, sources said, the BJP will push forward something that home minister Rajnath Singh had first proposed when he was UP chief minister, and Yogi Adityanath said a few days ago — sub-categorisation of OBCs to ensure the more backward OBCs get benefits. This also suits the BJP’s larger national plan as the Modi government had last constituted a commission to examine the issue of sub-categorisation of OBCs.

The party sources said the UP-specific strategy will, of course, be “within the ambit of its larger national push to send the message of development and welfare initiatives the BJP has brought in”.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Government is working
    Political Party work is to work for election
    Modi ji has already hinted simultaneously polls for handling all the time election mode of country
    It’s wishful thinking to see results on ground just after few months
    Didn’t expect the same from sp bsp govt who ruled years?

    I m from up
    Law and order has improved
    Don’t see Investment?
    Have some brains it takes time for investment to materialise buy land from farmer setup plant and factory and start production
    It’s stupid if you expect a plant to blossom in a day

    Bjp govt in up is far btr than sp and bsp
    Who have just looted up and setup stage for mafia raj

  2. The party seems always to be in election mode. Life does not end with winning an election and then forming the government, sometimes with a bit of realpolitik. Difficult to think of the last fifteen months of Yogiji’s tenure as a period of Ram Rajya. Not even something as basic as improving law and order. Not a single major investment, either domestic or foreign, despite exaggerated claims made in the Investors’ Summit. Many people who stayed away may not have had the heart to vote for other parties, but they saw no objective reason to press the button for the lotus.

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