Mumbai: For the BJP, the next port of call is the Lok Sabha seat of Palghar, where a by-poll is slated on May 28. Licking its wounds after the embarrassment in Karnataka, the BJP does not want to leave anything to chance and has requisitioned the services of Yogi Adityanath, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The Yogi will be addressing a rally on Wednesday in Virar, the bastion of Hitendra Thakur, the chief of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi. Thakur has fielded Baliram Jadhav, former Member of Parliament, against Rajendra Gavit, the BJP candidate. Shiv Sena has fielded Srinivas Vanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Vanga, and hence the triangular contest has become a battle of prestige for CM Devendra Fadnavis. There are around 17 lakh voters in the Palghar LS constituency, out of which 22 per cent hail from North India, mostly Uttar Pradesh. It is this segment of voters that the BJP wants to tap, and for this it has decided to use the good offices of Yogi Adityanath.
Fadnavis has already attended four public rallies in this constituency and two more are scheduled. His speeches were mostly directed at the Shiv Sena, which is an indication of the thinking within the BJP camp. The party perceives Sena as a bigger threat than either the Congress or the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, which has a sizeable presence in the semi-tribal belt.
According to a BJP insider, Yogi Aditynath was not scheduled to address the rally and decided to come over on a specific request by Fadnavis. A party insider said: “Yogi Aditynath is the new saffron face of the party which appeals to hard core Hindu voters; here, he can also help wean away north Indian voters. It will enable the BJP to retain its seat.” Yogi was asked address public rallies in the recently-concluded Karnataka state assembly poll as well. Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari, who is also the Delhi Pradesh president of the BJP, recently addressed a public meeting in Vasai.