UP civic polls 2017: Yogi Adityanath’s extensive campaign for municipal and other urban local body elections in Uttar Pradesh has caught the attention of political observers. In UP, chief ministers in past have rarely invested so much energy and interest for the local polls. Yogi Adityanath has changed the convention, but why? Several reasons have been floated by different experts.
First, as the party itself claims, that BJP takes every election seriously. In the last few years, the saffron party has transformed itself into a political war machine that has taken the opposition by storm in most parts of the country. In accordance with this BJP practice, Yogi has traveled across the state, addressing at least 33 public meetings for the three-phase local elections. Starting the campaign from Ayodhya, he has toured all 16 municipal corporations where polls are being held. In Lucknow itself, five public meetings for him was planned. Moreover, not just Yogi, his entire ministry is canvassing across the state.
Second, as claimed by the opposition, the UP CM is not confident of development and policing steps he has taken in the last 8 months and hence he is trying to personally reach out to voters. However, eight months is a very small time to judge the performance of a government.
However, there are other big reasons for which Yogi and BJP are treating the civic polls at par with assembly elections.
A number of elections, including the Gujarat polls, are lined up in the run-up to the General Elections in 2019. The BJP wants to continue the winning momentum. A win in UP civic polls will also help the saffron party build a wave like it did in the UP assembly elections 2017, which came after the party had performed unexpectedly well in local elections in several states.
On Tuesday, The Indian Express reported BJP insiders as outlining the “factors” that are “forcing” the party to give so much importance to the civic body polls. These included the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections and the 2019 General Elections.
For the first time, the BJP has released a manifesto for urban body polls and made several development promises. Not only this, the saffron party has also set up a war room of 50 members for campaign and poll management and hired two helicopters for Adityanath, state BJP chief MN Pandey and two deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma for the campaign.
The party workers believe that a handsome win the BJP in civic polls would send a message that people continue to have faith in PM Modi, BJP and Yogi, despite vicious propaganda by the opposition on issues like GST and demonetisation.
Some may find it surprising that the BJP is putting so much effort even as it has been traditionally very strong in urban centres, including Lucknow and Varanasi, even when it was out of power in the state. There is certainly a madness in the method of the saffron party. The opposition may take some lessons.