With eyes on the 2024 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started chalking out a strategy to increase its gains in Uttar Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state and winning it is key to securing power in general elections as it has 80 Lok Sabha seats — highest for any state. It's often said that the road to Delhi passes through UP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also an MP from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.
In the 2019 general elections, the BJP won 62 of the 80 seats in the UP. The BJP has now turned its focus to 14 of these seats and has assigned four Union ministers the responsibility of assessing the party's strength and weakness in these areas.
The seats held by the non-BJP parties in the state are Bijnor, Amroha, Moradabad, Sambhal, Raebareli, Ghosi, Lalganj, Jaunpur, Ambedkarnagar, Ghazipur, Shravasti, Mainpuri, Saharanpur and Nagina. Of these, Raebareli is held by Sonia Gandhi of the Congress. Notably, BJP's Smriti Irani defeated Rahul Gandhi in the Congress bastion of Amethi in 2019 elections.
The Samajwadi Party has three Lok Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh, including Dimple Yadav (Mainpuri) and Shafiqur Rahman Barq (Sambhal). The BSP has 10 Lok Sabha MPs from the state.
What are the BJP plans?
A senior leader of the BJP told PTI, "The party has given responsibility to four Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Annapurna Devi, Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Jitendra Singh to assess the strength, weakness, challenges and threats on the lost seats.
"These ministers have assessed these areas in the first phase and have submitted a report to the party. General secretary of BJP's state unit Amarpal Maurya has been authorised to coordinate between the (party) organisation and the government on these 14 seats."
According to party sources, Tomar has been given the responsibility of monitoring Lalganj, Ambedkarnagar, Shravasti and Rae Bareli. Devi has been given Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Ghosi while Singh has been given the task of looking after Mainpuri, Sambhal, Moradabad and Amroha. Vaishnaw has been given the task of assessing Saharanpur, Nagina and Bijnor Lok Sabha constituencies.
BJP aims to win all 80 seats in UP
In the meeting of the state unit of the working committee last month, UP BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary gave the responsibility to the office bearers to win all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
As part of the efforts to secure the seats, the BJP has started holding meetings with the beneficiary groups of various schemes of the Centre and state government. It has also started a dialogue with various sections of the society.
BJP National President JP Nadda had visited Uttar Pradesh on January 20 after the extension of his term and interacted directly with ex-servicemen, booth committee members and prominent sections of the society.
A party functionary said Nadda will tour Western Uttar Pradesh and other senior leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, will also visit the seats which the party had lost in 2019.
Chaudhary said on the booths where the results had not come out in our favour in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, "we are establishing a dialogue with the public by identifying those booths through booth empowerment."
The BJP is also spreading awareness about the public welfare works and schemes being implemented by the government.
Political scenario in 2019 election
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the SP, BSP and RLD had contested together. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) had got 64 seats, while the BSP had got 10 seats followed by the Samajwadi Party, which got five seats.
The Congress retained its bastion of Raebareli.
In the Lok Sabha by-elections held last year, the BJP wrested the bastions of Azamgarh and Rampur from the Samajwadi Party.
However, the saffron party could not clinch victory on the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seats, which went to bypolls following the death of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. Dimple Yadav, the daughter-in-law of Mulayam Singh Yadav was successful in retaining the seat.
The Uttar Pradesh election result is significant as the state accounts for 80 seats in the Lok Sabha.
(With PTI inputs)