BJP feels that Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment as Congress
The party is also aiming at winning nearly half the Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal and Odisha and is optimistic about again forming alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharasthra.
BJP leaders said that the party was better prepared to take on the opposition in Uttar Pradesh compared to 2014 due to stronger booth-level presence and the work done by the Modi government over the past five years.
They also made light of the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party saying that a buzz was sought to be created when SP and Congress had come together during the 2017 assembly polls but the alliance failed.
However, they also said that Congress gaining credibility or improving its prospects in the state due to appointment of Priyanka Gandhi as Congress general secretary in charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh will benefit the party against the gathbanthan (alliance).
Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment came days after Congress was left out from the alliance announced by Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. The Congress has announced that it will contest all 80 seats in the state but has kept the window of an understanding open.
The BJP had done very well in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 seats with two seats going to its ally, and party leaders said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would again contest from Varanasi.
BJP leaders did not rule out the possibility of Modi contesting from another seat and said a decision is expected to be taken once the Lok Sabha campaign picks up pace. There have been demands from some Congress workers that Priyanka Gandhi should contest against Modi from Varanasi.
BJP leaders said while BJP will need to improve its vote share by a small percentage compared to 2014 to get a good outcome, the SP and BSP will need to do more. They said that the opposition has many prime ministerial candidates and “who will be the PM will be most important issue” in the election.
The leaders said that the 2019 election was an “ideological battle”, “a very important election’ and the party will fight it with more vigour than 2014.
“We were in power in five states in 2014, today we are in 16. The number of party workers has gone up to 11 crore. There are 22 crore beneficiaries of government schemes. We will get full majority and Narendra Modi will again become prime minister in 2019,” a party leader said.
The BJP is also focusing on states such as West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala where it had won very few or no seats in 2014 elections.
The party has adopted an aggressive strategy in West Bengal, where it is hoping to win 23 of the 42 seats and is scheduled to hold over 300 rallies in different parts of the state with a big rally in Kolkota in the first week of April. Modi will also address gatherings in the state.
In Odisha, the party is aiming to get at least half of 21 Lok Sabha seats and in Kerala it is aiming to win at least 5 seats.
In Mahrashtra, where Congress and NCP have already reached a broad understanding, BJP leaders expressed confidence about reaching an agreement with Shiv Sena. Party leaders said that they will also take steps to address concerns in the northeast regarding the citizenship amendment bill.
While it is still not clear how many seats BJP will fight on its own, party leaders indicated that the National Democratic Alliance will contest almost all the Lok Sabha seats.