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Why is Atal Bihari Vajpayee Not Featured on BJP Posters in Uttar Pradesh?

With Uttar Pradesh amidst country’s most crucial General Assembly Elections, a look at political advertisements gives us an insight into political opportunism adopted by Bhartiya Janata Party. The BJP’s strategy is a repetition of 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and 2015 Bihar Assembly Elections, which is trying to set new predicaments among the ranks of the party. Old unwavering leaders like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, PanditDeendayalUpadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Lal Krishna Advani, who founded and steered the party through most of the difficult times, have apparently lost importance.

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None of these stalwarts made an appearance, physical or otherwise, throughout the Uttar Pradesh Election campaigns which are running full-throttle since the last few months. It has happened for the first time in the electoral history of the state since 1980, the year of inception of Saffron Party. The fact that Uttar Pradesh had been Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s political turf and that BJP needs to appeal to numerically significant Brahmins, who still claim to have special reverence for the party patriarch, makes the strategy of blanking out his image all the more puzzling. Even at the party headquarter at Lucknow, that surprisingly has one poster of L.KAdvani, the same of Atal Bihari Vajpayee is completely missing, despite the fact that December 25 was his birthday and Modi shared an old video to claim his closeness to the grand old leader. Is it just Narendra Modi trying to get all the spotlight?

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Interestingly, as BJP’s election rally concluded in Lucknow in December, Rajnath Singh said a few words in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s honour. He said, “Good governance, which was first initiated by Atalji when he was the Prime Minister, would do a gharwapsi once BJP government is in power in the state.” This statement was clearly made to polarize the voters and take advantage of former PM’s good-will in the state.

BJP’s posters, hoardings, banners, billboards, and even stickers show Narendra Modi and Amit Shah occupying the central space while Rajnath Singh (Rajput), Kalraj Mishra (Brahmin), Uma Bharti (Lodh, OBC) and Keshav Prasad Maurya (UP BJP President, Kushwaha, OBC) are represented in miniscule sizes.The exclusion of party forerunners can be clearly seen as party’s desire to portray Narendra Modi as the almighty general and a joint force with Centre, in the electoral war. Funnily, when asked about the ‘mistake’, BJP spokesperson admitted, “These leaders are revered icons of integral humanism. They are the icons of peace and integrity. The placement of their portraits does not a matter as they are in our hearts and a guiding force.” So, why larger than life models of PM Modi, the self-proclaimed adopted son and not Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the real son of the country?

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Confident of winning the support of Upper Castes, BJP is investing its time in seeking OBC votes by hosting 200 exclusive meets for them, termed as ‘PichhdaVargSammelans’. Why do they not have such conclaves for Dalits? Clearly, they are trying to woo in communities which are more likely to be won over rather than sections already committed to other parties.

But this does not surprise the people. The political opportunism has been adopted by BJP, multiple times. In earlier elections, the party hasn’t shied from using Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol to mobilize masses, the same Gandhi who lived for principles like secularism and again, the same Gandhi who has been replaced in the Khadi Movement by Narendra Modi.

It is time, BJP realizes that people of Uttar Pradesh are not going to get swayed by further promises of ‘Achhe Din’ or such marketing gimmicks, they want development.

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