Lucknow, Feb 21: There is a "pro-incumbency" wave in Uttar Pradesh rather than an "anti-incumbency" one, and the party will break all its previous victory records in the ongoing assembly polls in the state, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has said.
In an interview to PTI, Sharma also said it was the party's decision not to field him in the assembly elections, and dismissed suggestions that Brahmins, a community he hails from, are unhappy with the BJP.
"The BJP is going to break all its previous records. There is no anti-incumbency in the state, rather it's pro-incumbency. We are getting enthusiastic responses wherever we go due to works done by the Yogi Adityanath government," he said.
He said this time it's not the party but people who are contesting the polls for the BJP. "Huge crowds and their response show this. Also, it's not candidates but the party symbol which is contesting the polls."
The BJP had won 312 seats in the 403-member UP house in 2017 and together with its NDA allies its strength had gone up to 325. Saffron party leaders have been claiming that their tally would surpass the 2017 figures.
Sharma was speculated to contest the assembly polls from any of the seats in Lucknow, but his name did not appear in the final party list.
When asked about it, he said, "Final decision in our party is taken by the top leadership. I had been party's national vice president, incharge of Gujarat and my tenure in legislative council is till 2027. The party wanted me to do organisation work and I am doing that."
Considered among the top three in the BJP government in the state, alongside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, Sharma is the only among them who is not the poll fray.
All the three are members of the state legislative council at present.
Sharma had served as a mayor of Lucknow Municipal Corporation for 10 years in the past.
Among the star campaigners of the BJP, Sharma said he had visited 64 districts and addressed over 150 public meetings in favour of the party.
Asked if there was any difference within the party on Adityanath being the chief ministerial candidate again, Sharma said, "There can be 'matbhed' (differences) within opposition, but in our party there are 'disha-nirdesh' (directions) from the leadership and all follow that."
"As far as Yogiji is concerned, he is our CM face and everyone is seeking vote in his name," Sharma, a Lucknow university professor, said.
Asked if there is resentment among the Brahmin community against the government and whether it could dim the party's winning prospects, Sharma said, "Brahmins are traditional voters of the BJP and they can never be angry with the party."
"The BJP did all the work including beautification of Naimisharanya Dham, Vindhyachal Dham, Mathura and making Ayodhya an international city -- which Brahmins like.
"What Brahmins need is respect and the party has given it to them and be it organisation or government they are given due representation," he added.
Opposition parties have been reaching out to the numerically dominant Brahmin community, assuming they are not happy with the work of the Adityanath government.
On the Opposition's charge of rising unemployment under the present regime, Sharma said the unemployment rate was 17.4 percent when the BJP came to power in 2017. "It is now 4.9 per cent. The government is committed to the future of the youths."
On the Samajwadi Party's charge that BJP is divisive, Sharma said that Opposition is demoralised and lack any proper agenda. "And they have now become abusive also. Our party's agenda is 'sabka saath sabka vikas, sabka vishwas' (inclusive development)," he said.
Asked which party he considers as the main BJP challenger, Sharma said, "All parties -- SP, BSP, Congress and AIMIM -- are contesting for a second place. Unitedly, their tally will not reach the three digit."
Asked about some party leaders, including Swami Prasad Maurya, leaving the BJP ahead of the polls, Sharma said, "Those who left the party had personal agenda. Our party is cadre-based and such leaders leaving the party won't have any impact. Leaders from all sections and parties have expressed faith in the BJP and joined it."
He said the BJP has zero tolerance towards crime and criminals and the government has broken the backbone of the mafia.
The people of the state understand what the BJP government is for them and they will certainly vote the BJP to power, he said.