PATNA:Unlike Jharkhand where a fragmented Opposition could hardly put up a fight, Bihar is going to be no cakewalk for the BJP. After the new alliance between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janta Dal (United) in the state, the saffron party has been compelled to recraft its poll strategy. The challenge is bigger as it faces two political stalwarts (Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar), who together ruled the state for the last 25 years.
The spectacular victory in last Lok Sabha elections––winning 31 seats out of 40––made the NDA confident of forming its government in Bihar. The party leadership set the bar high by announcing “Mission 185” in the 243-seat Assembly. The current strength of the party is 87 although it had won 91 seats in the 2010 elections.
But 2015 is not 2010 as the politics of the state has changed dramatically. Friends have became foes and foes, friends. The political knack of two Janata Parivar heavyweights is yet to be tested after they engineered an alliance. By electoral arithmetic, they together with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had an upper hand with 46 per cent votes in the last Lok Sabha polls whereas the BJP could get only 39 per cent.
BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi does not consider it a major challenge for his party. “A large section of the society is still scared of the ‘Jungle Raj’ of RJD days, so they cannot think of voting this new alliance,” he said. “Politics is not mathematics. It is much more complex. I strongly believe that a large number of RJD voters would not vote for Nitish and vice-versa,” he added.
Realising the strength of the united Opposition, the BJP leadership has swung into action. Last Thursday, party chief Amit Shah met former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi. Shah also called a meeting with RLSP leader and Union minister of state for HRD Upendra Kushwaha. Efforts are on to bring Manjhi’s party Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) into the NDA fold as the backward caste leader may prove to be the spoke in Nitish’s wheel as Bihar has 16 per cent Dalit votes.
Earlier, both RLSP and HAM leaders had been sulking as the BJP leadership was not giving them much attention. Now, along with LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, the party leadership is planning a rainbow coalition. Party sources said that the leadership is in touch with expelled RJD MP Pappu Yadav, who also floated a new political party, Jan Adhikar Manch (JAM). Pappu, a young Yadav leader, has his own mass base, particularly in Seemanchal area. He can thwart the RJD in most of the Seemanchal constituencies dominated by Yadavs.
Senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar was made in charge of Bihar polls and a host of other senior party leaders are making regular visits to the state to get first-hand feedback from party workers. The NDA government at the Centre may announce some major projects for the state before the election. “The party Central leadership is also keeping the state leadership in the loop whenever any major decision is to be taken,” said a senior BJP leader.
The upcoming Bihar election in the words of Lalu Prasad would be a ‘dangal’ (wrestling match). The entire country is watching it with keen interest.
Courtesy: The New Indian Express