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Upper castes deserted BJP for BSP and Congress in 2007, 2009 polls
Surya Pratap Shahi, a Bhumihar, has been unable to improve ground situation as BJP State chief
NEW DELHI: BJP vice-president and Rajya Sabha MP Kalraj Mishra was on Friday appointed chairman of the party's campaign committee for Uttar Pradesh, where the Assembly polls are scheduled for next year.
The announcement was made here after BJP president Nitin Gadkari finalised the appointment.
With this, the party seems to signal its intention to make an all-out bid to bring back into its fold upper castes which deserted the BJP for the Congress or the Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll and the 2007 Assembly elections in the State.
The movement of Brahmins towards the BSP took place in the Assembly election when BSP leader Mayawati successfully forged an alliance between them and Dalits. In the subsequent Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was also able to nibble away at the Brahmin vote.
By selecting Mr. Mishra to lead its campaign, the BJP has once again signalled its willingness to give Brahmins primacy and coax them back to the party. Till 2004, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented the Lucknow constituency, the Brahmin ascendancy in the party was very much established.
The BJP has chosen not to experiment with younger and newer leaders, preferring to go with experience as Mr. Mishra has for many years held sway over U.P. as State president. It is also conceded by some leaders that Surya Pratap Shahi, a Bhumihar, State president since May 2010, has not improved the ground situation for the BJP.
The party has been hoping and waiting for a resurgence of its fortunes in this most populous State but it has not succeeded so far. In the last Assembly election, it projected as its chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh, who has since left the party. At that time it pinned its hopes on his ability to get a section of the backward castes, the Lodhs particularly, to back the BJP.
With the former party president Rajnath Singh, a Thakur, expected to devote a lot of his time to turn the situation around, the BJP hopes to widen its appeal to the upper castes.
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