Saharanpur: If you go by the posters, and the slogans on the BJP rath that was unveiled for the Uttar Pradesh poll campaign today, then there is only one agenda the BJP is pushing in the state – the Modi Model of development. Say goodbye to ‘goondaraj’, the posters urged and reject the corruption associated with Mayawati’s tenure, light up villages and join the Modi bandwagon. But when party president Amit Shah spoke while kicking off the Parivartan Yatra, it was clear that the trump card in this election was going to be the surgical strikes conducted across the Line of Control as a response to the Uri attack.
“This is not Sonia-Manmohan sarkar, this is Modi sarkar which gives eent ka jawab pathar se aur goli ka jawab gole se (tit-for-tat),” Mr Shah said.
With these words, the party president declared the surgical strikes to be official campaign material in UP elections, something that was only the subtext till now.
Lawmaker Suresh Rana took it a step further, declaring that such a response was unprecedented for any government. “Give us a majority so that UP can be like the rest of country. Like people are saying Modi ji has permitted, if they fire one bullet, we fire thousands back. Never been like that before.”
Tough talking aside, western UP was going to be tough to crack for the BJP in the assembly polls. Saharanpur has a 33 per cent Muslim and an equal number of Dalit population, which has traditionally voted for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP. Out of the seven assembly seats here, four are with the BSP and only one with the BJP but the party is hoping that inducting rebel BSP MLAs like Mahavir Rana and Dharam Singh Saini will improve its performance. “In that party, we would have to pay to even seek an appointment with the leader,” said Mr Saini of his former party leader Mayawati.
What is another drawback for the BJP is the lack of a clear cut leader. “There are so many instances like Haryana where we won without projecting a CM candidate,” said union minister Sanjeev Balyan. As if to push this point, Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar was in Saharanpur to also mark the rally, but will the Haryana formula get the 265 plus seats that they aim for in UP? As the yatra progresses in the coming days, the answer is likely to emerge.