The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cadre was in a celebratory mood at the party office in Lucknow on February 25. They were celebrating the performance of the party in the Maharashtra and Odisha local body polls.
Their gesture, though symbolic, has wider ramifications and critics would see it as BJP counting the eggs before they have hatched.
The saffron party is apparently emboldened by internal surveys that suggest the party performed well in the last two phases of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and stands a good chance at forming the government in the state.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress alliance as well as the BSP too have emphatically reiterated that they have an edge. BJP has gained confidence from the fact that demonetisation did not spell disaster for the party, but rather helped it in states where it had been struggling to gain ground.
|But the basic question remains: are the celebrations premature in the state of UP? Photo: PTI|
It's under the impression that much against the claims of opponents, demonetisation is, perhaps, working in the party's favour.
Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and even Mayawati have made demonetisation a poll issue and reiterated that voters will teach the BJP a lesson in the elections as the nation was made to stand in long queues.
The results of recently-concluded elections, however, are in favour of their opponent.
Riding on the success, the BJP meticulously planned celebrations in almost every district headquarter — with emphasis in areas that are yet to go to the polls.
The party is trying to tap into the mass migration Purvanchal has witnessed owing to the lack of employment opportunities.
Celebrations can build the tempo and act as an elixir for party workers. This may also, to some extent, silence the infighting at the local level, which transpired during ticket distribution.
BJP may be aiming in the right direction as much is at stake for both party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The party is conscious of the fact that the 2017 elections of UP would in many ways set the tone of the 2019 general elections and the party is going full throttle.
But the basic question remains: are the celebrations premature in the state of UP?
Some BJP insiders indicated that the decision for celebrations was taken after much consideration and designed with the intent of consolidating the fence sitters and the so-called migratory voters.
The hardliners within the party have already been working along communal lines for vote polarisation, with Yogi Adityanath taking the lead.
He has promised to shut down slaughter houses, to rebuild the Ram Temple if the party comes to power and also threatened that graveyards would be constructed on a war footing if BSP or SP comes to power.
Even the prime minister, who, in his initial speeches, talked of development and a vision document, had to rely on the time-tested formula of the BJP and resort to the "Shamshan and Kabristan" discourse.
His remarks speak volumes of the apparent uneasiness within the party. Perhaps, the BJP feels that the alliance may topple the applecart of the saffron brigade like the successful mahagathbandhan experiment did in Bihar.
Even the BSP may throw up a surprise with Mayawati having meticulously chosen the candidates over a span of one-and-a-half years, taking into consideration their winning potential, as well as giving away more than 100 tickets to Muslims.
The challenge for the BJP is herculean as after the "pariwar", Akhilesh emerged at the top and, having elbowed out the old brigade within the SP, managed an image makeover.
It may act in favour of the alliance and help them tide over anti-incumbency.
The BJP, on the other hand, knows that it needs that extra push in the remaining three phases. A celebration in UP for victories in other states would definitely raise eyebrows — as well as questions when the counting takes place on March 11.