There is hope for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh and it is the Modi factor that is working in the rural areas once again.
Though the Modi wave is not as strong as it was in 2014, it is still palpable and more than Hindu pride it is national pride that is getting votes for the BJP.
The performance of candidates has, once again, taken a back seat and schemes like ‘Ujjawala’ and Saubhagya’ are not very popular in the campaign.
The caste factor is also at play and the Dalit-Yadav-Muslim axis has worked for the SP-BSP alliance in these elections.
The BJP’s campaign on air strikes, Pulwama and Balakot has reached out to the rural areas and the talk is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has saved national pride by giving a befitting reply to Pakistan.
Nanhe Lonia, the village head of Arjunpur village in Lambhua, Sultanpur, clearly says: “My vote is for Modi because he is important for national security. If this had not been an issue, I would have voted for the SP-BSP alliance candidate.”
Nanhe Lonia, who belongs to the OBC category, is surprisingly unaware of Maneka Gandhi, the BJP candidate in Sultanpur. “Candidate koi ho, mera vote Modi ke liye hai,” he explains.
In other districts like Chandauli, Deoria, Ghazipur and Ballia where the caste factor has always prevailed over Hindu pride, it is the Modi factor that is gaining ground.
The caste arithmetic, however, cannot be completely discounted and the BJP itself has not taken chances.
The party has given tickets keeping the caste arithmetic in mind.
In Kushinagar, the party has replaced a Brahmin with a Brahmin and in Gorakhpur it has opted for a Brahmin (Ravi Kishan who now flaunts Shukla as his surname).
With intensive campaigning by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the BJP hopes to win over Thakurs in the region and thereby make the winning recipe that will prevail over the Dalit-Muslim-Yadav consolidation in favour of the SP-BSP alliance. (IANS)