The BJP has put the intricate issue of its chief ministerial face in Uttar Pradesh on the backburner for now, even as the party has set out its tactical line — aggressively attack the ruling Samajwadi Party government and silently fight Mayawati’s BSP.

BJP leaders have been saying that the party’s main enemy in the state was SP, but the strategy is targeted at sending the message that the BSP was not the alternative. The BJP was apparently worried that the advantage of any anti-incumbency, particularly on the law and order issue, would go to SP’s rival BSP. Party sources said that by striking off BSP from its campaign rhetoric, it would counter the perception that it was the alternative.A senior party leader, however, maintained that the BSP did not count, as the SP was the ruling party in the state and the BJP was trying to wrest power from it. The leader said the BJP’s calculations dismissing the BSP were based on its absence in Lok Sabha and “just 20 per cent” vote share. The SP won the maximum number of seats in the Panchayat polls, the leader said. The leader also made it clear that the party was not targeting the Yadavs but the SP.

With the BJP making law and order under the SP government a key plank in the elections, there is apprehension that Mayawati could reap the benefits. The BJP is targeting the non-Jatav Dalit votes, non-Yadav OBC votes and its upper caste support base.

The BJP is still in a dilemma over the issue of projecting a chief ministerial candidate, with faces like Mayawati and Akhilesh Singh in the race. The party leader said it was still undecided whether the BJP would have a CM face.

After winning 72 of the 80 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, the party is hoping to bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Besides, the leader claimed that the party had several advantages over 2014, including the rise in number of booths from 32% to 87% and a “100 per cent anti-incumbency” from none in the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP was also seeing itself at an advantage in a triangular contest, unlike in Bihar where its opponents joined hands to defeat it.

Though the party has made development its election mantra, it is likely to cash in on any episode like Kairana to subtly push its Hindutva agenda in a state that had propelled it to the centrestage of national politics over the Ram Temple issue.