The Bharatiya Janata Party is keen to field its most prominent leader in Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi from one of the seats in Purnia district, which has a substantial Muslim population. The BJP is confident that Modi’s candidature from a Muslim dominated constituency will give a positive signal to the minority community, which is being strongly wooed by the grand alliance of Janata Dal United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.
“If Modi contests from there, it will galvanise the workers and the voters as he is our most prominent leader. We need to stop the JDU-RJD combine from winning in the Seemanchal region that comprises Purnia, Katihar, Araria and Kishanganj,” a senior leader in the party said, alluding that the BJP is eyeing the Muslim votes in the state. Seemanchal is understood to be the reference to the four north-
eastern districts of Bihar which form the Muslim hub of the state.
Muslims comprise 17% of the total population of Bihar, but make up between 30% and 40% of the population of Purnia, Katihar and Araria. In Kishanganj, which borders West Bengal, Muslims constitute 71% of the population and are crucial in at least 50 seats.
In the 2014 general elections, the Muslim electorate in the region voted for one candidate each of the Congress (Kishanganj), Nationalist Congress Party (Katihar), Rashtriya Janata Dal (Araria) and Janata Dal United (Purnia). These four parliamentary seats are composed of 24 Assembly seats, which are vital for the BJP to stop the RJD-JDU-Congress combine from coming to power.
“Our main aim is to make sure that the grand alliance does not do well in these seats. The voters till now have supported the JDU, RJD and Congress candidates from these seats, but with the entry of other players like the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the fact that the NCP will contest the elections alone this time, will prove beneficial for us as the Muslim votes will get divided,” a Delhi based BJP functionary said.
He added that in the last few months, senior JDU leaders from the minority community like Sabir Ali, Monazir Hussain and Jamshed Ashraf have joined the BJP which will also help it in getting the Muslim votes.
Meanwhile, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi’s entry into Bihar has come as bad news for Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar as he is expected to eat into their Muslim votes.
Referring to the massive turnout in a rally conducted by Owaisi, the BJP functionary said that “it is the JDU-RJD who should be concerned”.
“Our core voter is intact and with Tariq Anwar (NCP) too not supporting the grand alliance, the performance of this grand alliance will surely take a hit,” he said.