New Delhi: The BJP according to an internal survey is the first choice in 288 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, and the party wants to strengthen its position in these constituencies. A party leader speaking on condition of anonymity said that this does not mean that the party will be a winner in these 288 seats. He has also expressed the hope that the party will improve its position in the remaining 115 seats. Even the party leaders seem to feel that it is an optimistic view and that it does not reflect the situation on the ground.
Though the party has declared that the controversial Babu Singh Kushwaha, the BSP leader facing corruption charges who has joined the BJP, is a closed chapter, the party's strategy is geared to win over the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The BJP wants to use the Congress' pro-Muslim tilt, especially with regard to reservations, to be seen as a partisan of the OBCs. It wants to argue that reservation for Muslims would take away from the entitlements of the OBCs, literally pitting the OBCs against the minorities, especially the Muslims because the quota for Muslims will cut into the 27 per cent reserved for the OBCs.
The BJP is also preparing for a warm-up exercise before the Uttar Pradesh assembly poll campagn gets off on a formal note. There are to be two mass contact programmes – a Parivartan Yatra followed by a Sampark Yatra which would cover the 403 assembly constituencies in the state and which will be spearheaded by senior leaders of the party like L.K.Advani, Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra and a lot many other leaders in the state.
Surprisingly, the name of Uma Bharati, who was specially brought in by party president Nitin Gadkari to steer BJP's campaign in the state, is missing from the party notables who are to participate in the campaign.
BJP chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan Raman Singh are to campaign in those parts of Uttar Pradesh bordering on their states. For example, MP's chief minister will campaign in the Bundelkhand region of UP which is across the MP border. There is as yet no indication how much Gujarat chief minister Narender Modi will campaign in UP.
BJP leaders feel that the change of the first phase of the poll to be the last would be advantageous to all parties. It will enable them to tailor their poll strategy in the crucial phase which would cover about 60 assembly seats, mainly in the western belt.