Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 3
Rivals may froth at the mouth over statements by the BJP’s controversial star campaigners like Vinay Katiyar and Yogi Adityanath. But for the saffron party, timely interjections by members of its tested rabble-rousing brigade, which also includes another star campaigner—union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti—are like oxygen in the deeply caste- and religion-divided Uttar Pradesh.
Political observers say the BJP needs these aggressive crowd pullers—some because of their sheer sway over certain caste equations and some for the hold they have over supporters—to keep the core Hindutva lot happy and the saffron brigade in a combative mode.
Rival leaders have criticised the BJP for making Katiyar a star campaigner in spite of his controversial sexist statement against Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi—an observation which failed to draw any response from the saffron leadership. Currently, a Rajya Sabha member, Katiyar has represented the critical Faizabad (Ayodhya) three times and also happens to be the founder-president of Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the VHP.
So far in these elections, Sadhvi has not made any controversial statement (many believe it would not be long before she makes one), BJP’s firebrand Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath has certainly been creating ripples with his words.
The man, who not very long ago advised those opposing yoga and “surya namaskar” to either leave India or drown themselves in the ocean, has proposed an “anti-Romeo squad” to hang eve-teasers publicly if the BJP comes to power in UP.
He followed it with a direct jibe against the minority community, saying the western Uttar Pradesh would “turn into Kashmir and see a mass exodus” if Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is not removed from power.
With a massive support base demanding that he be named as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Yogi Adityanath is also someone who enjoys a star status in the party.
Sadhvi, meanwhile, forms an integral part of the saffron strategy for the OBC Nishad-Mallah community—a numerically significant caste combination in many parts of UP.
The observers say emerging circumstances (the new combination of Samajwadi Party and Congress and strengthening of Akhilesh Yadav) have created a new challenge before the BJP—the possibility of UP not throwing up a clear verdict. And hence the importance of leaders like Adityanath and Katiyar and other controversial leaders of the party like Muzaffarnagar riot accused and MLAs Sangeet Singh Som and Suresh Rana and their part in the BJP's “polarising” strategy.
As per BJP leaders, they would benefit the most if minorities vote “tactically” for a “weaker Muslim candidate” of either the SP and the BSP and the majority community goes with them. The BJP has not fielded a single Muslim candidate in UP. Clearly, therefore, any jibe against the minority community will have a double-pronged effect—keep its core voters (the majority community) happy and the saffron brigade in the fighting spirit.
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