Uttar Pradesh: Outsider entry creates ripples in BJP

The induction of Congress turncoat Jitin Prasada into BJP has come just ahead of the scheduled elections for four seats in the UP legislative council on July 5, in what has created fresh ripples in the state unit of the saffron party.

The four seats which will fall vacant in the upper house are all represented by SP legislators — Sri Ram Singh Yadav, Lilawati Kushwaha, Ram Vraksh Yadav and Jitendra Yadav. Given the strength of BJP in the UP assembly, it would be able to win all four seats.

As a matter of fact, the BJP leadership seeks to project Prasada as the party’s Brahmin face to consolidate the upper caste community — which accounts for 12% of the voting population — in the UP assembly elections due next year. A section of the community has been raising the issue of dominance of Thakurs in the present Yogi Adityanath-led government.

Even as Prasada’s chances of getting a role in BJP’s central organisational setup remains uncertain, the party sources do not rule out the possibility of him being propped up at the state level and being routed to the legislative council. Party sources said that this could potentially dent the prospects of a senior UP BJP organisational leader who has been nursing the ambition of getting a seat in the upper house.

It was only in January when ex-IAS officer Arvind Kumar Sharma, who is considered close to PM Narendra Modi, joined the BJP and was immediately given a ticket to the legislative council which he won easily. Sharma happens to be a Bhumihar from east UP.

While top BJP leaders refused to comment, sources said that the state unit was squarely averse to the very idea of party para-dropping an outsider as a key contender for a seat in council. “This will further set the narrative of insider versus outsider within the BJP,” said a senior party leader.

Notably, Prasada, who was a Union minister in the previous Congress-led UPA government, had been facing a severe political crisis since 2014 when the BJP started its juggernaut under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. Prasada not only lost his traditional Dhaurahra in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections to Rekha Verma but managed to secure a little over 16% and 15% vote share.

He also faced a defeat at the hands of BJP’s Roshan Lal Verma from Tilhar assembly seat in 2017 UP assembly elections despite Congress cobbling up a pre-poll tie up with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party. Verma had won the Tihar seat in 2012 on a BSP ticket.

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