BJP finds UP lifeline in Mulayam praise for Modi

Hoardings and posters that came up overnight reflected it’s desperation to exploit the comments

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 15.02.19, 4:58 AM
  • Updated 15.02.19, 4:58 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Founder of the Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav Telegraph picture

The BJP has seized on Mulayam Singh Yadav’s lavish praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament, hoping that the Samajwadi Party patriarch’s comments on Wednesday would confuse voters leaning towards the SP-BSP alliance the heartland twins have formalised for the upcoming general election.

Hoardings and posters that came up overnight in Lucknow reflected the BJP’s desperation to exploit the comments.

One hoarding hailed Mulayam for stating the “mann ki baat” (voice of the inner self) of Indians, in a takeoff on Modi’s monthly radio address by the same name.

“Thank you Mulayam Singh Yadav ji for stating in the Lok Sabha the voice of the inner self of 125 crore Indians,” said the hoarding put up just across the road from the state BJP headquarters and credited to Tahir Hussain, a member of the national party’s minority cell in Uttar Pradesh.

“Thank you Mulayam Singh Yadav ji for stating in the Lok Sabha the voice of inner-self of 125 crore Indians,” the hoarding stated, with a big picture of Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders with a grab of a news channel flashing Mulayam’s statement. The choice of a Muslim leader of the party putting up the hoarding appeared to be a deliberate.

On the hoarding were pictures of Modi and other senior BJP leaders and a grab of a news channel flashing Mulayam’s statement on the last day of the 16th Lok Sabha.

Mulayam had on Wednesday congratulated Modi, saying the Prime Minister had tried to move ahead taking everyone along.

“I wish he becomes Prime Minister again,” he had added, leaving the wider Opposition stunned.

The 79-year-old had later appeared to deny that he had said anything the way it was being projected by the media.

For the BJP, though, the comments in the House appeared to be a windfall at a time the BSP-SP alliance has emerged as the Achilles heel for the party in the heartland state that sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

Internal surveys by the BJP have shown that the BSP-SP alliance could inflict heavy electoral losses on the national party, which rules the state and won 71 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.

Party leaders said Mulayam’s statement could be used to confuse anti-BJP voters in the state, particularly the Muslims. They said that Mulayam, apart from being SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s father, is respected as a leader by the community.

The BSP, SP and the Congress had contested separately in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 Assembly polls, leading to a division of Muslim votes that worked in the BJP’s favour.

Reports from the heartland said the local BJP had pulled down the posters by evening on Thursday, apparently because the party didn’t want to be publicly seen as desperate to cash in on Mulayam’s statement. But party leaders claimed the audiovisual clip of Mulayam’s speech had already travelled across the length and breadth of Uttar Pradesh.

“What Mulayam said in the Lok Sabha has already spread among the people. There is no need to put up hoardings and announce it,” a BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh said.

The MP said people in villages were discussing the speech and it had generated “doubt” in the minds of Muslim voters.

The BJP has been secretly devising strategies to limit the efficacy of the Mayawati-Akhilesh alliance. One plan is to spread the word that after the elections, Mayawati could ditch Akhilesh and support the BJP to form the government at the Centre. Party leaders see this as an effective ploy to confuse Muslim voters.

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