With pre-poll surveys painting a grim picture for the BJP in Bihar, the party has decided to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi to campaign extensively in the state. Modi, who last week addressed a public rally in Muzaffarpur, is scheduled to address three more rallies in various parts of Bihar in August.
The fact that the PM is getting involved in the campaign at such an early stage is an indication of the worrisome situation the party is facing in Bihar.
According to a recent survey, if the elections were to be held today, the JDU would come out on top with 99 seats, followed by BJP with 87 seats, the RJD with 24 seats and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Party-Secular (HAMS) with 16 seats. Seven seats would go to other candidates. The survey has predicted that the RJD-JDU alliance would win 129 out of the 243 seats in the state with a vote share of 43%, while the BJP and its allies — Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan, HAMS and Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Prasad Kushwaha — would get 112 seats with a 32% vote share.
An internal survey conducted by the RSS last month also confirmed that the BJP was in a weak position, with the party, on its own, leading in only 66-70 seats. According to senior BJP leaders aware of the developments, PM Modi will address rallies in Gaya on 9 August, Saharsa on 19 August, and Bhagalpur in the last week of August.
“The rallies have been planned in such a way that every region of the state is covered. The rally in Bhagalpur will take care of the border areas of Seemanchal, Saharsa and Kosi, while Gaya and Bhagalpur will cover the south and eastern regions of the state,” a state BJP leader said, adding that as the elections near, more rallies by the PM will be held.
The BJP leader said that it was too early to comment on the party’s electoral situation on the basis of pre-poll surveys.
“Right now, even the election dates have not been announced, so how can one go by what the pre-poll surveys are saying? As the election dates near, the entire state will veer towards the NDA. We have just started our campaign and once the nearly year and a half of good governance by the Modi government is explained to the masses, these surveys will turn on their head,” he commented.
Apart from the achievements of the Central government, BJP leaders in Bihar are banking on anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar and the supposed galvanisation of the anti-Lalu Prasad Yadav vote to help them become the senior partners in the government for the first time in the state. “The fear of Lalu Yadav is still there in the minds of voters and that is the reason why Nitish Kumar is also avoiding being seen with him in public. As the election fever rises, the voters will realise that Nitish is just the mask, while the real player is Lalu. And all of Bihar knows what happened during Lalu’s jungle raj. Do you think that the voters of Bihar are naïve enough to bring back Lalu again?” asked a Union minister from the state.