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Uttar Pradesh: Can Keshav Prasad Maurya, the new BJP President, do a Narendra Modi in 2017 polls?

New Delhi: Ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, a Dalit face, as its President in Uttar Pradesh. The appointment of Maurya becomes significant in view
Raj Singh April 09, 2016 11:58 IST
Raj Singh

New Delhi: Ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has appointed Keshav Prasad Maurya, an OBC leader, as its President in Uttar Pradesh.

Keshav Prasad Maurya, the new President of UP BJP, has many similarities with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Like Modi,  Keshav Prasad Maurya was also a tea-seller once upon a time.

Not only this, like Modi, he also  belongs to the OBC community and has an image of a Hindutva-hardliner.

The appointment of Maurya becomes significant in view of the fact that the party is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that its spectacular performance of 2014 Lok Sabha elections is repeated in state Assembly polls as well. The party along with its ally Apna Dal had won 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats. 

The problem with UP unit of BJP is that the party lacks a credible and charismatic face at the local level. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party’s election campaign was designed in such a way that it completely focussed on the personal charisma of Narendra Modi who was the PM Candidate. And the strategy paid rich dividends. 

The BJP’s strategy of projecting Narendra Modi as a backward caste leader further helped the party as the new image of Modi helped the party in successfully making inroads into the traditional backward and Dalit votebanks of SP and BSP. 

Also read: B S Yedyurappa to head BJP in Karnataka, Keshav Prasad Maurya in UP

While the ‘Hindutva-hardliner’ image of Modi helped him in winning over the upper caste votes, his ‘backward-caste’ image brought the party closer to the OBC, SC and ST communities of the state.  The combination of the two divergent images created a massive wave in favour of the party which swept the Lok Sabha elections in the state. 

The adverse Assembly election results of Delhi and Bihar, however,  made it clear to the BJP that it can’t rely on the face of Narendra Modi alone for winning state elections. And the party was on the lookout for a leader in UP who, like Narendra Modi, had an image of   ‘Hindutva-hardliner’ and  came from underprivileged section of the society.

The party finally zeroed in on Keshav Prasad Maurya who fulfils both the criterion. He is presently an MP from Phoolpur Lok Sabha constituency. Maurya was associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) as a Pracharak for 18 long years and therefore has got an image of being a ‘Hindutva-hardliner’. He belongs to Kushwaha community and has got good following among the OBC community of the state. In fact, he is the first BJP candidate to win Phoolpur Lok Sabha constituency.

With his appointment, the BJP hopes to get the votes of both upper castes as well backward and Dalit communities of the state.  

After sweeping the state in 2014 Lok Sabha elections,  the party believes that the same combination will help it make a comeback in Uttar Pradesh. UP Assembly election results will also give an indication of things to come for Modi in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

A lot is at stake for the BJP in upcoming UP Assembly elections. Can Maurya do a Modi for the party in 2017?  Well, the party has played its best card.  However, a year is too long in politics and nothing can be predicted at this moment.