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BJP moves beyond party in bid to hunt for winners

The party has lured about 100 former MPs, MLAs and other leaders from rival parties, mostly from backward classes, and now plans to field them in constituencies where it has been traditionally weak. “It is a legitimate election tactic to find winnable candidates. We have to depend more on them since we don’t have strong contenders on most of the seats,” a BJP general secretary said. The BJP fielded 398 candidates in the 2012 election in Uttar Pradesh and 229, about 58%, of them forfeited their deposit. Only 47 candidates won and the BJP polled just 15% votes. But the party performed exceedingly well in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning 71 of 78 seats it contested. A groundswell for Narendra Modi is credited for such a victory, but the BJP lacks a face for the state polls. By the time UP goes to polls, Modi will have completed nearly three years in power at the Centre.
Despite a positive sentiment following surgical strike on terror launch pads across the de facto border with Pakistan and demonetisation of high-value currency notes, the BJP election managers feel they will need candidates who can win on their own strength. It is trying to avoid a repeat of Bihar, where the BJP banked on a high voltage campaign by the Prime Minister to overshadow the lack of winnable candidates but failed to overcome the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance. In Bihar, the BJP had shared power with the JD(U) for more than 15 years and had minimal presence in many areas under the control of its ally. “We have taken extra care in UP. We are projecting local leaders through our ongoing Parivartan Yatra,” another BJP leader in Delhi said. That explains the absence of high-profile central leaders from the yatra that is being used to showcase the party’s candidates by bringing them to the fore. The BJP’s star campaigners have stayed away from the yatra so far and will join at a later stage.

Source : Hindustan TImes

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