Why BJP's best bet in Uttar Pradesh is Modi himself

Chandra Vikash
Chandra VikashJun 14, 2016 | 12:34

Why BJP's best bet in Uttar Pradesh is Modi himself

Speculation is rife over who could be the CM candidate for BJP in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Media reports on the two-day National Executive meet of the party in Allahabad that concluded on June 13, suggest that the UP chief ministerial candidate issue didn't figure in the meet.

Some political commentators have argued whether the party should project a CM candidate at all before elections. Others have questioned the lingering confusion in deciding on the CM could cost the party whatever chance it has of winning this crucial election.


Manohar Parrikar, the defence minister, at a press conference in Ghaziabad on June 11, asserted that the BJP would soon project its chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Overwhelming political opinion and empirical evidence suggest that this is perhaps the only way the BJP has even a reasonable chance of winning this crucial election.

UP Polls 2017 will prove to be a litmus test for Modi's repeated attempts to reach out to the community.

Political pundits and the buzz from the grassroots indicate that as of now, the party is likely to be routed into a distant third after the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati and the incumbent Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

A number of people were amused when I suggested that in the larger interest of the truth, for the nation and for the party he represents, the BJP should project Narendra Modi to be the chief minister candidate for Uttar Pradesh.

The political orthodoxy might simply baulk at the very notion of "demoting" an incumbent prime minister to be pitted as the CM candidate in a state election.

To put this in perspective, the state of Uttar Pradesh (formerly called United Provinces under British Raj) has about two-third of the population of United States of America but only 1/40th of the landmass.


From a national viewpoint, both these elections will have tremendous impact on the policy direction for the central government in Delhi.

The state is in deep turmoil and has been grossly mismanaged by the successive governments of BSP and SP. The bizarre incident in Mathura, where the superintendent of police along with 24 other people were killed, is just a pointer to how the state is on the boil. The cult which engaged in land grabbing and sporadic violence had the blessings of the political shenanigans of the ruling party.

Agreed, that the repositioning of Modi may lead to some kind of political upheaval and even constitutional incongruity. After all, Narendra Modi sits on the prime minister's chair.

It does raise a number of questions. Why should the party sacrifice a sitting prime minister for the glorious uncertainties of a state election? And equally important: what is in it for Modi personally?

A masterstroke for BJP

A close, deep and dispassionate look at the ground situation as well as the larger national and global perspective reveals that this could perhaps be a masterstroke for a party that puts "nation first, party second and self last". It also fits the bill of BJP as a party-with-a-difference that is above dynastic politics and personal glorification.


For the party, Modi is perhaps the only one who would be acceptable to all prospective candidates and their vocal supporters and who can at the same time invigorate the rank and file of the BJP to surge past its mighty rivals. He towers over the otherwise long list of aspirants to this post in this large and politically charged state.

On top of it, Modi is also a member of Parliament from Varanasi, where after his astounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has lost considerable ground in local elections.

People look up to him to live up to the tall promises he made of cleaning up the Ganga and to get rid the historical city of its filth and squalor and regain its pride of place. The elections at the beginning of 2017 will be midway for the Centre when Modi's promises of "achhe din" will begin to be even more closely scrutinised.

What is in it for Modi?

As a disciplined soldier of the party, Modi perhaps realises that he has already ruffled too many feathers and upset many respected and powerful leaders in the party. He emerges from the RSS cadre, which more than others, sought to emphasise personal sacrifices for the larger national interest.

Uttar Pradesh is the largest state of India and a barometer of national politics. Most prime ministers' of the country have hailed from this state and the reason why Modi chose to contest elections from the state and to retain the seat giving up the other seat he won in Vadodara in his home state of Gujarat.

It has a significant Muslim population and will prove to be a litmus test for Modi's repeated attempts to reach out to the community and to wash away his sins of omissions and commissions in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

In this way, as much as a dip in the holy but turbid Ganga, taking the plunge into the murky and turbid political waters of Uttar Pradesh, will prove to be cathartic for Modi.

Of all things that he cares, leading a peaceful and harmonious election campaign for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh will uplift Modi's stature globally for a latter attempt to regain his seat as the prime minister and as a truly respectable global leader.

Modi has craftily positioned himself as the winning election campaigner. The crowds in Uttar Pradesh are waiting to see and hear him. Chants of Modi, Modi, Modi rented the air as usual in the National Executive meeting in Allahabad.

He should find himself on a comfortable wicket and with the right kind of issues and promises, and riding the anti-incumbency, Modi should cruise safely to the victory podium.

The bigger picture

Truth has been the biggest casualty of political opportunism and the credo of "winning at all costs". We realise that the cost has been too heavy and vastly disproportionate to the rewards with rising inequality and the danger of "eating into the future", as thoughtful elders, youth and even children are increasingly wary and restless about their future being put to danger by the culture of greed and instant gratification.

Both the BJP and Modi know that the propaganda machine that brought them to power can be used against them to ooze out more bleeding pounds of flesh by global masters as well as by their opponents.

The NRI community, the truly patriotic amongst them has already got a whiff that Modi may be bending too far and has been fooled into inadvertently selling out the country on several bilateral and multilateral issues.

To give him the "benefit of doubt," he may not even understand from within his echo chambers, the deeper import of how for instance, Make in India truly benefits the people of India. The buy-in for high cost of junk-grade nuclear technology from the United States exposes similar political naiveté at the global stage.

Domestically, the promise of "achhe din" is wearing thin and successive state elections point out that it will boomerang on the party's fortunes in the next Lok Sabha elections.

Many savvy political thinkers might concur that in the unfolding political dynamics, winning or losing the Uttar Pradesh may seal the fate for the BJP for the next Lok Sabha elections and most certainly for Modi himself.

Modi's only chance of redemption may rest on his ability to "stoop and conquer," this time for the larger good.

Last updated: June 14, 2016 | 14:10
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