The BJP on Thursday said it had discussed candidates for 172 seats for next month’s Uttar Pradesh Assembly election at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A finalised list is expected shortly, the party said.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the party – which has lost eight MLAs, including three ministers, over the past 72 hours – will win the 2022 election, and by a bigger margin than its 2017 triumph.
In 2017 the BJP delivered a stunning win, picking up 312 of UP’s 403 seats. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party was a (very) distant second with 47 and the Congress won just seven.
Today’s meeting – which was held at the BJP’s Delhi HQ and which the Prime Minister joined virtually after an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff members – was also supposed to discuss the possibility of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath contesting from one of two temple towns – Ayodhya or Mathura.
The Prime Minister, sources told NDTV yesterday, was supposed to take the final call in this matter.
Adityanath has never contested an Assembly election. He has previously represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat five times, and is currently a member of the state’s Legislative Council.
Sources told NDTV the party is considering this move as much to build his brand as a Hindutva icon as to counter negative press over the spate of exit of MLAs in the past three days; the most recent was Dharam Singh Saini, who quit just minutes before the party’s election committee meeting.
Today’s meeting follows a marathon 14-hour meet with the party’s UP allies, including the Nishad Party and the Apna Dal, which was chaired by Amit Shah and finished at 1.35 am.
The party’s core group met for over 10 hours on Tuesday as well.
The BJP is now firmly in election mode ahead of polls in UP, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Manipur.
In UP, the Yogi Adityanath government faces a stern test from Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and his ‘rainbow alliance’ of regional parties, particularly those from non-Yadav OBC communities.
The BJP is trying to stitch together something similar with allies Anupriya Patel of the Apna Dal and Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party, both of whom met Amit Shah yesterday to discuss seat-sharing.
In 2017 the BJP gave 11 seats to the Apna Dal and eight to Omprakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. This time around Mr Rajbhar has joined hands with the Samajwadi Party.