BJP resurrects ‘tainted’ Yeddy in K’taka, banks on Maurya in UP
With crucial Karnataka state assembly polls scheduled to held in 2018, months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the leadership decided to play it safe in the state.
Former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, who was ousted from office and party on corruption charges, has been reinstated as the state unit chief. The move comes after the Karnataka high court in January this year quashed charges against the Lingayat strongman in the land scam case.
Accounting for 17 per cent of Karnataka’s population, Lingayats deserted the BJP after BS Yeddyurappa quit the party in November 2012. Flexing muscles, Yeddyurappa had contested the 2013 election separately, causing major damage to BJP and facilitating Congress’ return to power in the southern state.
He returned to the party fold in 2014 after Narendra Modi was declared Prime Ministerial candidate. Following his return, BJP’s fortunes looked up in the state.
The change in the other major state of Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls in 2017, clearly reflects the focus to woo non-Yadav backward voters. The party on Friday announced appointment of OBC leader and Phulpur MP Keshav Prasad Maurya, a former VHP activist, as its state unit president in UP.
The party in UP is under pressure to repeat its stunning 2014 Lok Sabha performance in the 2017 state assembly polls. During the Lok Sabha polls party had won 71 out of 80 parliamentary seats, whereas two went to its alliance partner Apna Dal. Union Minister Vijay Sampla has been asked to head the Punjab unit, which again goes to polls in 2017. Sampla is from the Dalit community, which accounts for 32 percent votes in Punjab.
Former Lok Sabha MP Tapir Gao will head the party unit in Arunachal Pradesh, where it has recently come to power toppling the Congress government. Dr K Laxman, party’s floor leader in Telangana assembly would head the state unit. While Sampla is a Dalit leader, Gao belongs to the ST community while Laxman is an OBC leader.
In Uttar Pradesh, BJP is trying make a dent into Bahujan Samaj Party’s vote bank. In the case of a four cornered contest, BJP is seeking to retain votes of such OBC castes, which went with it in 2014 and Mauryas, who traditionally vote for BSP, are being wooed aggressively.
In addition to Maurya’s caste, the 47-year-old leader’s participation in Ram Janmabhoomi movement also went in his favour, though his organizational skills are still untested.