New Delhi: Buoyed by its internal surveys which show the party has gained ground in Uttar Pradesh on the issue of corruption, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is keen to translate the anti-graft sentiment among people into votes in next year`s Assembly polls and form the government.
BJP leaders said the surveys showed that the party`s fortunes had improved due to corruption emerging as an issue against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre and the Mayawati government in the state. They said three surveys had been done over the past few months which showed the party can substantially improve its tally from the 51 it won in the 2007 Assembly polls.
"Surveys were done by an independent agency, the party and the Sangh Parivar. The common inference is that the party is the first choice of voters in a majority of the 403 Assembly seats in the state. The challenge for us is to translate this mood into votes," a senior party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
BJP leaders said the party would need the support of at least two major communities to put up a good show in the caste-polarised polity of the state. The BJP is keen to consolidate upper castes and non-Yadav backward classes in its favour and also get support of other communities.
The leaders said the party had done well when Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Kalyan Singh were its faces and it needed a combination reflecting a similar caste matrix in the 2012 polls. The projection of Uma Bharti as a leader is being seen as an attempt by the party to get the backing of the Lodh community, to which Kalyan Singh belonged.
According to calculations of BJP leaders, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has lost support of upper castes as also a sizeable section of the Muslim community and her Bahujan Samajwadi Party`s tally could come down drastically from the 206 seats it won in 2007.
BJP leaders said the Samajwadi Party continues to have the backing of the Yadav community while upper castes were gravitating towards the BJP.
They also said the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh had taken a hit due to scams faced by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and its "mishandling" of anti-corruption agitations led by yoga guru Baba Ramdev and activist Anna Hazare. Hazare`s statement about campaigning against the Congress in the Uttar Pradesh polls if the Jan Lokpal bill is not passed in Parliament`s Winter Session has provided the BJP more fodder for attack.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the party was in a "very good position" in the state and was aiming at forming a government on its own.
"The twin issues in the state are corruption and crime. On both these issues, the BJP has a good track record," Naqvi said.
BJP leaders said the party is not likely to project a chief ministerial candidate in the state, which is crucial for its ambitions to come to power at the Centre in the 2014 general elections.
They added that the major challenge for the party was to select "winnable candidates with clean image" to capitalise on the anti-corruption sentiment.
BJP leaders Kalraj Mishra and Rajnath Singh are leading two yatras in the state which will be flagged off on October 13 as part of their party`s mass campaign for the 2012 polls. Party veteran LK Advani`s anti-corruption yatra is expected to touch some parts of the state including Varanasi, Mirzapur, Rampur and Ghaziabad.
The BJP had finished third in the 2007 Assembly polls but its graph declined further in the 2009 polls when it won only 10 Lok Sabha seats and finished fourth.
BJP leaders said that MPs and MLAs from other states will be assigned duties across all 403 Assembly constituencies in the state.