Neena Vyas

Between 1991 and 1998 BJP attracted

non-Muslim, non-Yadav votes

Party plans to play as aggressive Opposition

in U.P.

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is beginning to admit that wooing Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati three times and cohabiting with her governments have cost it dearly. While the BSP’s support base increased, the BJP’s shrank.

What is worse — and that was perhaps what made the BJP hit its lowest mark since more than two decades — the perception that it had helped the Samajwadi Party form a government prevented it from emerging as the alternative when the anti-incumbency factor started working against the Mulayam Singh Government.

BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley, recently given charge of Uttar Pradesh as ‘prabhari’, held a meeting at his residence here for over two days and last weekend visited Lucknow to meet party candidates, most of whom had lost, to try and learn why and what had gone wrong.

“We are a structured party trying to work in a caste-dominated environment,” he said, adding that between 1991 and 1998 the party was able to attract a large chunk of the non-Muslim and non-Yadav votes.

The trouble began when the Dalits started moving towards Ms. Mayawati in large numbers and of late, when the Brahmin vote also shifted to her.

He will now try to work out a strategy to get back the votes the BJP has lost.

The BJP was able to retain its support base from 1991 to 1998 under the leadership of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (brahmin), and the former Chief Minister, Kalyan Singh (a Lodh representing the non-Yadav backward castes).

The view is that the Bharatiya Janata Party needs to present a leadership that would once again attract these segments of voters even as it builds on its support base among traders or baniyas.

A point that has been made is that Mr. Vajpayee was able to address just one public meeting during the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election as ill-health prevented him from doing more.