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Moving to wean away voters loyal to regional satraps, the BJP is asking them to choose differently at the state and national levels, telling them that votes for Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections will not hurt the Assembly fortunes of state leaders.
In Dhanaura, located in Malik segment of Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, Lalman, a Dalit, has made up his mind after listening to the BJP candidate: “At the time of chhoti sarkar (Assembly election), I will vote for the elephant (BSP). For the badi sarkar (Lok Sabha), I will vote for Modi.”
Lalman is not the only one. There are several others who have switched loyalty, only for the Lok Sabha elections. BJP leaders claim this indicates the “groundswell of support” for Modi. They admit that the party has not hesitated to give currency to the idea this election.
UP BJP chief Lakshmikant Bajpayee told The Sunday Express: “We tried to harness three important markers in the public mind. First, the attraction of Modi’s decisive leadership. Second, the sentiment of ‘upar Modi, neeche apne hisaab se’. Third, the blurring of caste lines this election... we have demonstrated an eagerness to accept this sentiment of ‘upar Modi, neeche apne hisaab se’, reaching out to communities loyal to other parties in the hope that they vote for us in the Assembly elections later.”
A Modi aide, while assessing party prospects in Odisha, said: “BJD workers have a new ploy. They are telling voters ‘upar Narendra Modi, neeche Naveen Patnaik’. They don’t want this support for Modi to hurt BJD chances in the Assembly elections.”
Even Modi has not hesitated in pushing this strategy. Speaking at a Kolkata rally in February, he said: “People of Bengal will enjoy the benefit of having Didi in Bengal and Narendra Modi in Delhi.”
Leaders of other parties too acknowledge the strategy. In Haryana, where the BJP has not been strong, a Congress leader echoed what the Jats have been saying: “Upar Narendra, neeche Bhupinder”.