‘The workers and ground-based leaders were extremely angry with the ministers and MPs who had forgotten them’.
Resentment against the corrupt bureaucracy at the local level and indifference shown by state Cabinet ministers towards the party workers were among the primary reasons why the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a surprise loss in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, UP-based Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries told this newspaper.
According to sources, even though the electoral defeat might have come as a shock for the Delhi based BJP leadership, the state BJP leadership had been told multiple times that workers of both the BJP and RSS, who are responsible for door-to-door campaigning, were extremely unhappy over the treatment that they had been receiving.
“It has been nearly four years since we sent 71 MPs to the Lok Sabha and it is nearly one year that we have had a BJP Chief Minister in the state. However, even for a small work like admission in a school, grants for an organisation to spread the party’s and the organisation’s philosophy, sanctioning of roads and bridges, our ground workers and leaders have to pay bribes to the bureaucracy. If they approach the ministers, they are ignored. This all has been happening for a long time now. In this situation, which party worker will give his time and put in efforts to mobilise voters?” a senior UP-based RSS functionary asked.
According to him, the resentment against the ministers and the bureaucracy has been communicated to the BJP leadership multiple times. “When the ministers want to win the elections, they come to our workers, but once they have won the election, the same worker is asked to wait for hours and hours in front of the minister’s house and office and then asked to meet the local bureaucrat, who, too, turns him away,” he added.
An RSS pracharak, who was shifted to Uttar Pradesh in 2015, said that the ministers are becoming less and less accessible to the ordinary workers due to which the workers, both from the RSS and BJP, were upset. “It is the ordinary worker who is the backbone of our organisation and if they become upset and disenchanted, this is naturally going to hurt the leaders,” he said.
In the bypolls in Gorakhpur, which is considered to be the citadel of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the voting percentage was 47, a sharp decline from the nearly 55% voting that was recorded in the 2014 general elections.
In the 2014 polls, of the 10.4 lakh votes that were cast, Adityanath had got 5.39 lakh votes. In comparison, in the 2018 bypolls, of the 9.25 lakh votes cast, BJP candidate Upendra Dutt Shukla got 4.34 lakh votes, losing by less than 23,000 votes.
Similarly, in Phulpur, which saw a dismal 38% polling, down from 50% in the 2014 polls, the BJP candidate, Kaushalendra Patel, could only secure 2.83 lakh votes. In 2014, Keshav Prasad Maurya, the then BJP candidate had got 5.03 lakh votes of the 9.60 lakh votes cast. According to a Lucknow based BJP functionary, the workers and the ground based leaders were extremely angry with the ministers and the MPs who had forgotten them and this was evident in the bypolls. “Door to door mobilisation, which is the forte of the RSS, was missing this time as a result of which we could not bring our voters to the polling booths. If this issue is not rectified, we will see a much more negative result in the 2019 general elections,” he said.