BJP begins its preparations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for the 2019 General Election
It’s definitely not a good time to be a BJP legislator, especially a Member of Parliament (MP), from the country’s most populous and electorally crucial State of Uttar Pradesh. That reality would certainly have dawned on the honourable MPs who were left cooling their heels outside the room as party president Amit Shah heard and absorbed feedback laced with straight talk from BJP vistaraks and RSS workers in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday to assess the ground realities in the run-up the 2019 General Election. The prognosis was not very flattering for the MPs, a large majority of whom, Shah was told, have been non-performing, sloppy and generally up to no good. So pathetic has been their performance, and so clear-headed is the BJP about the importance of getting as close as possible to the 73 (with allies) out of 80 Lok Sabha seats it won from Uttar Pradesh in 2014 at the height of Narendra Modi wave, that there is talk of dropping as many as 50 sitting MPs for 2019. Not only is this tough messaging emanating from the party leadership expected to virtually kick those not unredeemable into improving their performance over the next six months if they harbour any hopes of re-nomination but it is also a crucial political signal to players in the so-called grand Opposition alliance in the State.
Let us explain why. Assuming leaders of both the major Opposition parties with strong grassroot support parties in the State, the SP and BSP, thrash out a seamless understanding, on the ground there will be huge discontent among their activists and seat aspirants. Both SP and BSP have at least one (though in most seats more than one) strong contender for each of the 80 seats. Once the process of seat-adjustment is complete, there will be a minimum of 40 likely rebels from each party. Which party do you think the ‘winnable’ seat aspirants from among them will approach for a nomination? And all this is without factoring in the seats which the mahagathbandhan, if there is to be one, will have to allocate to minor players such as the Congress and RLD. In sum, the BJP is positioning itself with great political nous as the party which has the courage to drop non-performers yet have winnable replacements from within and outside ready to take their place. Additionally, it has the organisational discipline/muscle and financial heft to ensure that a potential rebellion within its own ranks if ‘outsiders’ are given tickets is stamped out ruthlessly.
Bihar, which sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha, is where Shah is headed next. Significantly, he is meeting Nitish Kumar on July 12 in Patna for a one-on-one, presumably to put a lid on the speculation in political and media circles that the JDU is sending out feelers to the RJD for a mahagathbandhan redux. But the BJP is certain that the brinksmanship being indulged in by its alliance partner is aimed at getting the maximum seats it can extract from the BJP. And Shah, even his critics would concede, definitely knows how to negotiate.
Writer: The Pioneer
Courtesy: The Pioneer