The UP electoral battle is intensifying. The BJP is harping on a TINA factor and the opposition
is gradually slipping to play on the BJP Hindutva pitch.
Whether the competitive politics between Congress and Samajwadi help the BJP or they are able
to redesign the election issues might decide the course of UP.
Is there a TINA factor? The BJP believes so. Its leaders say that the opposition howsoever it may
try have nothing to match chief minister Yogi Adityanath or prime minister Narendra Modi. Yes,
visibly they are ‘invincible’. It appears to them that all leaders against them Samajwadi Akhilesh
Yadav or Congress siblings Priyanka Vadra or Rahul Gandhi have paled into insignificance.
It is partially true. Modi is riding high, sprinting from one rally to another, one inauguration to
the other, opening up a temple, refurbishing it, demolishing small temples and plethora of
development plans
Yogi tows him. Sometimes Yogi is left in the middle of an inauguration all alone walking to his
car. At others Modi, hugs and walks along. Yet at another occasion he is called Upygoi – useful.
On his own Yogi is lambasting Akhilesh-Jinna, all those who had created a narration against
Ram Mandir, Vishwanath temple or now the Krishna temple in Mathura. The attacks are
blistering. Every leader is having a dream of Krishna, the BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav request
to party president JP Nadda to field Yogi from Mathura as per Lord Krishna;s wishes is also the
result of such a dream. It catches on and every leader Akhilesh to who not is having dreams of
being ordained by Lord Krishna.
Mathura is tricky. It is in western UP, the hotbed of the farmers’ year long agitation that forced
the BJP to withdraw the three farm bills. The opposition believes with Samajwadi Akhilesh
Yadav and RLD’s Jayant Chaudhury coming together, the Hathras rape incident still fresh in the
memories of the Valmikis; Unnao rape and murders, many encounters, drifting of castes like Nishads; supposedly dominant Jats and Muslims coming closer, the narrative is reportedly
helping it.
The move to pit Yogi from such a hotbed is a supposed BJP strategy to high pitch the campaign
with RSS cadre working hard to bring the BJP back to the hustings. Efforts are on to revive the
memories of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots that paid the BJP dividends in 2017 assembly and
2019 Lok Sabha polls to bring the Jats back to the BJP fold. The strategy of pitting Yogi from
western UP with a dazzling religious card is expected to strengthen the TINA factor.
It remains a big gamble as one RSS leader in charge of Gorakhpur, Yogi’s home district, says.
So far he does not see much hope in western UP though BJP will have enough seats to form
government from eastern UP, Avadh and faith and development card being played astutely.
The Vishwanath corridor, revamp of the Vindhyachal temple, Ayodhya Ram temple and now the
shrill pitch for Krishna janmabhoomi temple are expected to floor the opposition campaign
against price rise, fuel prices, jobs, and other pressing issues, including the MSP that had put the
people to trouble during the last few years – the strong campaign plank of the Opposition, BJP
leaders Dinesh Sharma, Srikant Sharma and others from the region aver.
There are some baggage at local level in Varanasi and Vindhyachal. Many small structures or
temples have been razed in these two places. This has hurt many families that were subsisting on
one or the other temple. Such local sentiments are being cashed by the opposition. The new
constructions may have impact in other regions but uncertainty at local level remains.
If it works the BJP romps home to have another stint. That would be a test for TINA. Normally
TINA works where the BJP machinery is strong as in UP. But it has also been seen that it did not
work for BJP in Delhi, Bengal, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand wherever there was
strong alternative.
So far in UP such strong alternative is not being seen though Samajwadi Party apparently is
gaining strength. Akhilesh is reportedly emerging as crowd puller. The Congress leaders
Priyanak and Rahul are yet to match Akhilesh but the impact of Congress efforts particularly by
Priyanka are being felt. Even the state Congress office at Lucknow having a supine look till
recently, is drawing huge crowds. Whether these are any indication or not difficult to say but it is
obvious that these parties are also being fancied by the people. Priyanka’s stress on women
Women – “ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon” – has created a kind of euphoria among the women and
Congress workers. Not to be outdone BJP has changed the name of the Jhansi station to that of 1857 warrior Rani
Lakshmibai. Yes, BJP has a match for every opposition assault.
So far Yogi has not emerged as great party organizer or a good election strategist beyond the
Hindu and Hindutva. His shrill cries on Krishna Janmabhoomi, Ayodhya and Vishwanath
corridor are an effort at polarization. But BJP senior leaders say that Ayodhya was not a vote
catcher in the post 1992 demolition or 1990 kar seva. It formed a government in 1991 with just
221 seats. BJP fought the 2017 election under Modi’s banner and Amit Shah organized the entire
campaign. It fought the 2019 election under Amit Shah’s presidency. Yogi has been projected as
star campaigner in other states but still Modi remains the campaigner in UP. Yes, of late, Yogi
has emerged as campaigner for the Krishna temple.
The BJP knows that Akhilesh has emerged strong and with RLD he poses the most difficult
challenge as he even woos Brahmins. The BSP leader Mayawati remains an enigma. The BSP is
working silently though except for three all of its MLAs have joined other parties.
The BJP is aware of the presence of Congress though it is not being considered an alternative. So
it wants a “Congress Mukt Bharat” where it can effectively replace it.
The contest is tough. The BJP has to retain UP not for 2022 but for 2024. So far it has succeeded
in making the SP, RLD and Congress play on its Hindutva pitch. Elections are some weeks
away. The opposition continues strategizing to fling new challenges. The BJP has multi-pronged
approach and would sharpen its Hindutva onslaught. Who the MIM of Asaduddin Owaisi helps
would be keenly watched. The BJP is banking on the TINA to retain UP so that it can storm
home the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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