As we enter the last leg of Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017, BJP is pulling out all stops to ensure that it extracts maximum from the last two phases. Out of 89 seats going to the polls in the last two phases on March 4 and 8 respectively, SP had won 50, BSP 14 and Congress 7 in the 2012 assembly elections. BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been emphasizing on ending ’14-years of Vanvaas of vikas’ in the politically crucial state. However, other party leaders, especially BJP Lok Sabha MP Yogi Adityanath, is playing it differently by pitching ‘Hindutva’.
BJP President Amit Shah has accused the Samajwadi Party of pursuing politics of “caste, family and appeasement” in Uttar Pradesh. Construction of the Ram temple may not be on the BJP’s manifesto for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls but Yogi Adityanath makes it clear that a saffron government in Lucknow will pave the way for it. The fifth-term Lok Sabha member is the mascot of the party’s Hindutva-wrapped agenda of development as the BJP makes a final push in its bid to capture power in the state in the last two phases of elections to be held in 89 seats. In one public meeting after another, he comes hard on the Samajwadi Party’s “Muslim appeasement” and promises that a BJP government will protect their (Hindus’) interests.
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“The SP government’s development is all about development of ‘kabristan’. If a BJP government comes to power, it will not happen that they (Muslims) will be allowed to have a DJ show in their festival but not you during Durga Puja. The interests of the majority community have been betrayed. “If a SP government comes back to power, then money meant for your development will go into developing kabristan. A BJP government will pave the way for the Ram temple construction,” Adityanath (45) says in a string of public meetings covering different Assembly constituencies.
He reminds Dalits, seen as a BSP support base, that “the biggest criminal” Mukhtar Ansari, who is currently behind bars in a murder case, has joined Mayawati’s outfit and only a BJP government can teach him a lesson. If Ansari is “sabse bada goonda”, then SP’s Muslim face Azam Khan, who does not wield much influence in the eastern UP, is the “most corrupt.”
According to The Indian Express report, there reasons behind the sudden shift in the BJP’s strategy.
Samajwadi Party transformed after Akhilesh’s capture of the party. The slogan Kaam bolta hai and an acceptance of his “intentions” and his image, among even critics, helped turn vikas into a strong Akhilesh attribute. Also, events in Gujarat made vikas a dodgy gold standard for the BJP to cite, with the SP using “no Metro in the state” to counter the BJP-as-modern assertion. Again, Mayawati’s image as a no-nonsense administrator has made “law and order” an identifier for her regime. Further, crime statistics cited by the PM were robustly contested by the BJP’s opponents citing MP and Rajasthan as bigger crime states. What was clear ever since the BJP manifesto came out in early February, and which has gathered pace, was vikas and “law and order” with a no-holds-barred Hindutva context. So, “law and order” was expressed through fears of a “Hindu exodus” in Kairana. And vikas had to be laced with references such as “bijli during Ramzan” versus “bijli during “Diwali”.
(With agency inputs)