UP by-polls: Is BJP's Yogi Adityanath a good enough answer to SP's strategy?

While the Samajwadi Party might have been counting their blessings when the UP police decided to slap BJP president Amit Shah with a chargesheet on the Muzaffarnagar riots, their celebrations came to a premature end. A Muzaffarnagar court rejected the police's chargesheet against Shah.

Sanjay Singh September 12, 2014 20:25:53 IST
UP by-polls: Is BJP's Yogi Adityanath a good enough answer to SP's strategy?

While the Samajwadi Party might have been counting their blessings when the UP police decided to slap BJP president Amit Shah with a chargesheet on the Muzaffarnagar riots, their celebrations came to a premature end. A Muzaffarnagar court rejected the police's chargesheet against Shah.

The UP Police's decision to file a chargesheet against Shah for an alleged hate-speech made in April has people suggesting that the Samajwadi Party was the brain behind the move. It was being discussed that the party was hoping to benefit from the controversy before the by-polls to be held on 13 September. However, when the court rejected the chargesheet, citing several technical flaws thereby revealing that the UP government and police had not done their homework well.

The atmosphere in the run-up to a by-poll, in even a communally sensitive Uttar Pradesh, has never been this vitiated. Though the 13 September by-polls for 33 assembly and three parliamentary seats are spread across nine states but in no other state the political atmosphere is as charged as in UP.

UP bypolls Is BJPs Yogi Adityanath a good enough answer to SPs strategy

Yogi Adityanath. Agencies.

The contest in UP is direct, between Samajwadi Party and the BJP, something that never happened before. Though the outcome of the assembly polls does not alter superstructure of the the state assembly or trigger change in power structure, the two parties are pulling all stops to make sure they come out in the top.

The 11 assembly seats the by-elections will be held in, all belong to the BJP. The party is sharply aware of the fact that it can win back all the 11 seats. However, if they lose more than just two or three seats, the cadre's morale in the state will take a hit. BJP's critics, that way, will also get a reason to say that the much-hyped Modi magic was on a wane after the general elections.

However, if the BJP wins all 11 seats then it can still claim that the Akhilesh Yadav government has lost the confidence of the masses, setting its stage for the next state polls. They can even demand early polls in the state. It is also perhaps the reason why BSP chief Mayawati refused to field a candidate in the by-elections.

The Samajwadi party’s reputation is at stake in Mainpuri, the most prestigious of the Yadavs' home constituencies.

Understandably thus, the SP has gone all out to make sure they make the most impact in the by-polls. According to reports, Mulayam himself is leading the troops, many suspect the chargesheet against Amit Shah was filed on SP's behest and the party has also ripped BJP apart accusing them of stoking communal tension by harping 'love jihad' etc.

The BJP too is not far behind. In almost an eye-for-an-eye move, they have got Hindutva hardliner Yogi Adityanath to lead the party from the front in the by-elections.

The court's rejection of the chargesheet has not only come as relief to BJP but has given them ammunition to use against the SP. It can now accuse Mulayam's party of raising false alarms.

Even as the BJP leaders went on record criticising the UP Police move to target Amit Shah when he was exonerated by the Election Commission, off-record they felt that the move would yet again help in “counter polarisation”.

In this context, the state BJP's decision to defy the ban on Yogi Adityanath's public meetings become important.  The ban was issued by the Lucknow district magistrate. The state administration and SP have taken up the matter with EC. A FIR has been filed against Adityanath and others who accompanied him while he defied the ban on public meetings.

The BJP leaders, however, are not worried. They are instead in a combative mood. Party national secretary Shrikant Sharma said, “The state administration is working as per the directives given by Samajwadi Party. How could it withdraw their permission only hours before the public meeting was to be held. That too on the pretext that Samajwadi Party rally was to be held around the same venue. Adityanath did not defy the orders, did not hold any rally but he went around meeting people with the candidate in a vehicle that was registered by the BJP with EC for election work. What can he do if few thousand of people gathered to see and hear him.”

He claimed that Swami Adiytanath’s chopper was not allowed to land at three places including Mainpuri because SP was afraid that he could swing popular sentiments in favour of the BJP. Sharma also aggressively refuted all charges against Adityanath, saying he has only been highlighting Samajwadi government’s blatant Muslim appeasement policy and analysing why social tension prevailed between the two communities in various areas in the state.

Though a five-time MP, Yogi Adityanath never got the kind of prominence that he is getting now. His supporters are enjoying the publicity. Though a section of the BJP leadership is not happy with Adityanath’s overtly Hindutva tone and tenor but now they are not making it an issue.

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