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Tale of yatras: BJP to go on Parivartan Yatras in UP to beat Congress, SP at the game

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:46 IST

Election campaigning in Uttar Pradesh is gradually gaining momentum with "yatras" under different names being the preferred way to reach out to voters.

Beginning sometime next week, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will launch its campaign for 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The campaign has been called the Parivartan Yatra - Journey for Change.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) started its Sandesh Yatra on Saturday with party president Mulayam Singh Yadav flagging off the first contingent from Lucknow to Allahabad.

The yatra was being undertaken to inform the people about the SP government's achievements.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's Kisan Yatra is already in progress in the state.

The BJP game plan

To cover all the 403 constituencies the state will be divided into four parts of 100 constituencies each. Minor adjustment will be made to include the remaining three constituencies.

There is secrecy about the four parts, or the districts from where the yatra will be taken out. BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said the names of the places were not to be disclosed yet. "They have been finalised but have been kept under the wraps," he said.

It can be surmised, however, that the four parts would be eastern UP, western UP, Bundelkhand and Central UP including the Awadh region as the state has been viewed thus by those demanding a division.

Sources said that the four yatras will start from Saharanpur (western UP), Ballia (eastern UP region), Lalitpur (Kanpur region or central UP) which would cover Bundelkhand and Sonebhadra (Kashi region). BJP has planned to deploy its maximum firepower in eastern UP.

The exact date on which the Parivartan Yatras will begin has not yet been finalised. Nor has it been decided as to who will be the leaders heading the yatras on the launch dates. All that Pathak agreed to share was that "big leaders like Amit Shah will be involved".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was likely to lead the campaign, although party's national vice-president Om Mathur said that every worker of the party was its face.

And more details...

But, there is lesser ambiguity about how it will progress. Each of the four yatras will cover 100 constituencies in 100 days with a day's halt in each constituency. That would mean reaching out to the voters with complete thoroughness.

The campaign will be run with the twin purpose of motivating and mobilising voters, while development will be the main talking point, Pathak said.

Rallies at district headquarters have also been planned before each of the yatras culminate in Lucknow.

Upping the ante

Compared to Rahul Gandhi's Kisan Yatra, the BJP is casting its net wide in order to tap every voter at every booth.

Rahul's yatra is an outreach effort targeting farmers alone. The BJP, on the other hand, intends to cover all the segments of voters and motivate them with its development agenda.

The goal of the BJP is to make India Congress-mukt, whereas the Congress is striving to remain afloat to be able to have a say in India's political discourse.

So, what have the BJP MPs done for the development of their constituencies? Pathak first said that these are state elections and it is the state government which has to show the development that has happened under Akhilesh Yadav.

He then cited the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency - Varanasi - where in over two years the state government has been able to build only eight pillars for a flyover opposite the bus station.

In comparison, road construction from the Babatpur Airport under the Prime Minister's agenda has seen 18 pillars being constructed during the same period.

Lucknow MP Rajnath Singh's Outer Ring Road plan for the state capital had also moved beyond the blueprint stage, he said.

Having won 72 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats from UP, the BJP faces an uphill task of repeating the performance in the assembly elections.

The burden would lie on the shoulders of not only Narendra Modi and Amit Shah but also Rajnath Singh, a former chief minister of UP.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

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First published: 11 September 2016, 2:38 IST