UP Assembly elections 2022: BJP team to prepare for next year polls
The central leadership of the BJP has kick-started preparations for the crucial Uttar Pradesh polls early next year, focusing on ironing out differences among state leaders, getting the caste matrix right and improving the image of the Yogi Adityanath government.
Two leaders — general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh and former Union minister Radha Mohan Singh — held a two-day preliminary review meeting with the state leaders on Monday and Tuesday to get feedback for the central leadership on poll preparedness.
Although the current BJP leadership is known to be constantly in election mode, the shock of the defeat in Bengal has sent party managers into an overdrive, given the significance of Uttar Pradesh. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
The Yogi Adityanath government’s failure in handling the Covid crisis has invited sharp criticism and party managers believe it has damaged the image of the state government, necessitating corrective measures.
The results of the recent panchayat polls have also alarmed the party into advance stocktaking. The results showed that the party-backed candidates suffered defeats in strongholds such as Ayodhya, Mathura and Gorakhpur besides many other regions. Overall, if the results of the panchayat polls are any indication of the mood on the ground, it’s not something to be excited about, party leaders said.
The state government and the party organisation have been asked by the central leadership to run a massive campaign to help Covid-affected people. The two central leaders reviewed the campaign, party leaders said.
The choice of sending Santosh, in-charge of organisational matters and co-ordination with the RSS, showed the focus on reviewing organisational preparedness to face the polls, party leaders added.
Differences among ministers and leaders in the crucial state, stemming mostly from Adityanath’s “autocratic style” of functioning, have dogged the party. Many party leaders feel the dismal performance in the panchayat polls was the result of infighting among local leaders.
The anger over Adityanath’s style of functioning came out in the open during the Covid crisis when many MLAs of the party complained that they were powerless and could face action if they spoke against the government.
The two central leaders also held separate meetings with the chief minister and his two deputies. Party insiders said the aim was to gauge the level of coordination between Adityanath and his deputies amid reports of differences.
Party insiders said one of the deputy chief ministers, Keshav Prasad Maurya, had found himself sidelined by Adityanath and there were fears it could impact the support of backward castes.
Maurya was the party chief in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly polls and his face was widely used to woo the backward castes. However, after the results, Adityanath, who hails from the upper Thakur caste, was made the chief minister.
After meeting the Delhi leaders, Maurya, however, suggested all was well in the party. “We will win 300 seats in 2022,” he told reporters.
Apart from strains in the backward caste support base, problems have also surfaced in the BJP’s traditional upper caste base. Sections in the party said Adityanath’s domineering governing model had annoyed the Brahmins who felt marginalised under “Thakurvad” pervading at all levels of the government.
“The district officials don’t listen to us. We can’t even get simple things done for our people,” one backward caste MP of the party said. The MP added that there was unrest among backward caste voters and stressed the need for the party to address many issues.
Party insiders said some significant changes in the government and the organisation could be made based on the assessment of the two central leaders.
The buzz over replacing Adityanath, however, has been rubbished by insiders. “Yogi Adityanath is the darling of our core Hindutva votaries. The party can’t dare to drop him,” one BJP MP said.