Will 'love jihad' issue help BJP win by-polls in Uttar Pradesh?

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Yogi Adityanath has been given command for UP by-polls
The BJP had to face a blow in the recent by-polls for not taking them seriously as a result the party managed to win just 8 out of 21 seats in the states of Bihar, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. But, party won't repeat the same mistake in upcoming Uttar Pradesh by-elections. As per party's star campaigner Yogi Adityanath, the party will raise the contentious issue of 'love jihad' for September 13 by-polls on 10 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat.

BJP to raise ‘love jihad' issue?

The party may have refrained from raising the controversial issue in its executive committee meet in Vrindavan, but the BJP MP from Gorakhpur, who has been chosen by the party high command to lead the poll campaign in the politically sensitive Uttar Pradesh, said the party would make it an issue.

Has BJP cornered its development agenda?

As per a TOI report, the Gorakhpur MP was quoted as saying, "The issue of 'love jihad' would certainly be an issue in this by-poll. I have been raising this issue for the past four to five years. The menace first began in Kerala and has now spread to Western UP," Yogi said.

The firebrand politician also blamed the incumbent Samajwadi Party government in the state for turning a blind eye to it.

Adityanath, who is known for his strong Hindutva sentiments, was recently caught on camera in an undated video addressing his supporters and saying that if members of a community convert a girl of another community, then at least 100 girls of their community should be converted.

Why this sudden change of guards for BJP?

But a pertinent question arises why this sudden change in BJP's strategy which had barely five days ago had distanced itself from raising the ‘love jihad' issue even in its executive committee meet. Certainly, the party is in no mood to take UP by-polls lightly and that could be the reason why Yogi Adityanath has been assigned this task.

Adityanath had in the past associated the ‘love jihad' issue with the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and bring the SP government on the mat. Also, there have been several incidents of sexual harassments against Hindu women by Muslim men in parts of western UP.

Hence, raising the ‘love jihad' issue would certainly polarise the voters in BJP's favour. It must be noted that, Yogi Adityanath has been thriving in the region with his provocative speeches and Hindu hardliner image in the state.

Has BJP cornered development issue?

By allowing its firebrand leader, Adityanath, to take care of communally sensitive UP, the BJP has certainly sent a signal that the party has left the development agenda on the back burner. The BJP's development plank it seems is not working for the party in the region and that is the reason it is raising sensitive issues like ‘love jihad'. With it the BJP would associate the inability of UP administration which has failed to prevent such social abuses.

When asked party UP unit chief Lakshmikant Bajpai avoided delving into the issue but didn't refrain from raising ‘love jihad' issue as well. "Good governance and development would be on top of the by-poll agenda," he said, adding that other local issues would also be taken up.

BJP's stake at test in UP

BJP may have suffered a loss in these by-elections but it has realised that party's major test will be at its bastion in UP. Thus, the party wants to fair in the state by-polls at any cost since loss in UP would definitely send wrong signals across the party line and will also give its opponents an easy opportunity to rise in 2017 assembly polls in the state. A lot will be at stake when the party tests waters in the state months after it won record 71 out of 80 parliamentary seats from the state.

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