Patna, Oct 24
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he BJP will hope and pray that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will turn the tide in its favor in the battle of Bihar as he resumed his foray in the state from October 25 after a two-week Dussehra interlude. The party banks heavily on the PM’s magic since its internal survey for the first two phases of polls for 81 seats have shown that the NDA was doing poorly in the state. The PM has so far drawn huge crowd in all his rallies, and the BJP hopes to cash in on his popularity among the youths and middle class.
The outcome of Bihar polls will also be a reflection on Modi’s acceptance in the masses 16 months after he came to power in Delhi, promising to turn India into a virtual El Dorado.
Modi is the only factor that can save the BJP, which is battling against odds in the state where historically it was never a winning horse. Till 1996, when Jharkhand was still a part of Bihar, the BJP was a resurgent force in the state, thanks to the deep inroads it had made in the tribal population. After the creation of Jharkhand, the BJP- dominated areas became part of the fledgling state, and Bihar BJP turned into a poor cousin of its Jharkhand unit. For eight years, the Bihar BJP shared power in alliance with Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (U). Nitish dumped the BJP two years ago on the question of Narendra Modi’s projection as Prime minister. This has turned the battle of Bihar an ego clash between Modi and Nitish. That’s why the BJP has mobilized massive resources and party chief Amit Shah is camping in Patna for over a month. Alas! things seem not to be working for the BJP the way its leaders would have expected.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]R[/dropcap]ealizing the stakes, the PM is himself expected to lead the charge in the next three phases by holding more than a dozen rallies in a bid to convince the voters that the BJP alone can place the state back on the track of development. Of course, his critics will flag the gap between promise and delivery and point out that that the lives of the common man has remained unchanged even after change of guards at the Centre.
The BJP is better placed in the third phase which goes to polls on October 28. Of the 55 seats at stake in this round, the BJP hopes to win majority of them in Saran, Buxar and Bhojpur while the `Grand Alliance’ could sweep Nalanda and win at least 5 of the eight seats falling under Patna district.
In the fourth phase, the NDA must win at least 70 per cent seats in East and West Champarans, Siwan, Gopalganj and Muzaffarpur to go into the last phase with any chance to remain in the race The areas are BJP’s strongholds, but poor selection of candidates and growing caste polarization has made the task difficult for the BJP.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]U[/dropcap]nless the BJP offsets its possible losses in the first two phases by making major gains in the third and fourth phases, it will have no hope going into the fifth phase. The overwhelming numbers of Muslim and Yadav voters in the regions are expected to solidly back the “grand alliance.”
As the campaigning peaks, the BJP faces fresh challenges like rising prices of pulses and furor over killing of two Dalit children in Haryana. The issue of Dalit killing resonates in Bihar because the BJP has fielded maximum number of Rajput candidates in the state. Since Rajputs are involved in burning alive these innocent Dalits, Nitish and Lalu Prasad have unleashed a vicious campaign to paint the BJP an anti-Dalit party. In fact, much to the embarrassment of the BJP, its Dalit faces like Ramvilas Paswan and Jitanram Manjhi have also joined Nitish and Lalu in slamming the BJP-led Haryana Government over these killings and subsequent controversial remarks by Union minister V K Singh. Dalits and Upper castes killed each other by hundreds in class wars in Bihar in 1990s. The latest incident could ignite the distrust between the two uneasy NDA partners.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he NDA is also facing the wrath of voters on spiraling prices of pulses. Despite all its claim that the Government has imported huge quantity of pulses, the centre has not been able to bring down the prices. History has shown that price rise inevitably invites voters’ anger and retribution.
Under the scenario, the Prime Minister is faced with an unenviable task of restoring the faith of the voters of Bihar in his leadership. If he fails, he has much more to lose than the battle of a mere state.
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