Faced with political Goliaths — Mayawati and Akhilesh Singh Yadav — in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is apprehensive about fighting a faceless battle in the state. The party is debating the option of identifying a chief ministerial candidate in the high-stake election.A final decision would have a bearing on the choice of the BJP’s state president. Keeping caste mathematics in mind, if the chief ministerial candidate, in case the party decides on projecting a face, is from the upper caste, the state president will be from the backward castes (OBC) and vice versa, sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The search for an acceptable and known mass leader to take on the BSP and SP heavyweights has caused further delay in naming the state unit chief, which is causing concern in the cadre as the assembly polls are just a year away. According to sources, there would be some clarity in around a month. After the Bihar experience, where the BJP fought without projecting a CM candidate, the party is keen on having a face in UP. A party leader said there were several names which could be considered but declined to name any.According to a senior BJP leader from the state, one of the biggest challenges before the party was retaining the support of its core upper caste vote bank. The BJP has had several upper caste leaders like Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and Lalji Tandon, but finding an acceptable face among the younger leaders will not be an easy task. Besides, not only would the party’s face have to take on Mayawati and Akhilesh, but also have to deal with the state’s regional affiliations.If the BJP decides to identify an upper caste chief ministerial face to lead the party in the state election, the party chief would be from the OBC. The names of state General secretaries Dharampal Singh, a Lodh, and Swatantra Deo Singh, a Kurmi, are doing the rounds, to replace Laxmikant Bajpai, a Brahmin. The RSS, which will have a signiIf ant say in the choice of party chief, and the BJP are likely to meet after the UP by-polls, sources said. With nearly a 45 per cent OBCs in the state, the BJP is setting its eyes on the non-Yadav votes, banking on what it views as their disillusionment with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The ruling Samajwadi Party is catering to the interests of Yadavs, which has upset the other OBCs, a BJP leader said.“Nobody can win an election in the state without any support of the OBCs,” BJP’s OBC Morcha chief SP Singh Baghel claimed. The Morcha has been holding congregations of Baghel community across the state. The BJP will also cash in on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is an MP from Varanasi, being an OBC.Acknowledging that a dominant chunk of the Dalits — Jatavs and Chamars —owed their allegiance to Mayawati’s BSP, the BJP is trying to reach out to others, like Passis, among the community.After Bihar, UP is the next crucial election for the BJP and the party does not want to leave any stone unturned. It hopes to recapture the mood of the Lok Sabha election when it managed to sweep the state, cutting across caste barriers. While the party seems to have reconciled, to a large extent, that the Ram temple was no more a potent issue, it is also resigned to Muslim alienation from it. The party will focus on the youth, sources said adding that a youth congregation was being planned at Mathura.
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