Who was the invisible man who played the role of ‘Chanakya’ in UP elections?

Three years later, Prime Minister NarendraModi andAmit Shah strive to ensure a BJP victory in the UP, there is another man who is silently doing the invisible organisational work that Shah was entrusted three years ago. Meet Mr.Sunil Bansal also called “Mini Amit Shah” in BJP.

Yes, In June 2014NarendraModi handpicked Amit Shah to focus on the 80 LokSabha seats of Uttar Pradesh. Amit Shah was the King Maker of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It took around 11 months of ground work in Uttar Pradesh as BJP Party President Amit Shah slowly yet steadily gained those crucial 73 Lok Sabha seats. Without these seats, BJP would have fallen short of the 282 magic mark in 2014.

In turn, Shah discovered Sunil Bansal, a former Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activist from Rajasthan. Shah picked him up to work on the 2014 elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Sunil Bansal shifted to Lucknow and became Shah’s right-hand man. He learnt the importance of data compilation for electoral purposes, and slowly picked up the caste intricacies of each district in the state. He learnt from Shah the importance of organisational activities that would keep the party body busy and permanently connected with the people.

After the 2014 win, Shah rose up to become party president. However, it was recognition that Bansal would be the BJP’s key strategist for the UP Assembly polls of 2017,Shah left Bansal back in Lucknow as the state-level general secretary of the organisation. This position is crucial in the BJP. The fact that Bansal was an outsider, and thus not steeped in the messy caste and faction-ridden landscape of the state unit, was seen as an advantage.

Sunil Bansal of the party organized 88 youth-centric, 77 women-centric, 200 OBC-centric, 18 Dalit-centric and 14 trader-centric events, and held numerous state, regional and sector-level meetings with booth workers. It deployed 403 Parivartan Vans to each constituency.

BJP made two major decisions on the party’s broad strategy and organisation in the run-up to the state elections. The strategy was to focus on the upper castes, non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits, who comprise 55-60% of its population. Probably the fact that BJP did not have a single Muslim candidate was aimed at the fact that they never intended to polarize the elections, it was pure number crunching and data analysis.

Sunil Bansal had to implement this on the ground, and change the party’s character in the process, by appointing OBC district chiefs and picking up a large share of candidates from this segment of the society. The move came in for widespread criticism and internal resentment.

The second decision was to energise the organisation early. So, at a time when the Samajwadi Party was embroiled in an internal struggle and the BSP remained in a state of virtual invisibility, the BJP had already begun raising the battle. According to party source, “The idea behind this was to increase the visibility of the party. Some programmes are more successful, others are less. But the point is to keep the party organisation mobilised”. This, he said, was also a good way to neutralise the disadvantage of not having a chief ministerial face.

Bansal’s core tasks include monitoring the prospects of the party in each constituency based on independent survey inputs, and planning the rest of the campaign. The party claims that it will cross the majority mark, and offers two broad reasons for this.

According to source, Bansal’s plan to Breaking down the demographic data is, “As much as 83% of the upper castes, 17% Yadavs, 73% non-Yadav OBCs, 25% Jatavs and 50% non-Jatavs are voting for BJP.”

The second reason lies in the BJP’s belief of a split in the Muslim vote bank. “They are not voting to elect the government. They are voting to elect MLAs. And so, they are voting differently in each seat – sometimes for the Congress-Samajwadi alliance, sometimes for the BSP. It would have been difficult for us if they were voting unitedly, but this split works to our advantage”

After all these strategies and calculations finally BJP made record breaking win in UP. Sunil Bansal was the Strategist who executed Amit Shah Plan in UP and became the “Chanakya” in the State by making “Brand Modi” successful in Uttar Pradesh.

Anusha Shetty