‘There is a very strong buzz in the party rank and file that the BJP will ditch the JDU at the last moment, derailing the JDU’s entire election preparation’.


New Delhi: Notwithstanding BJP president Amit Shah’s repeated assurance that Nitish Kumar will be the CM face of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) alliance for the Bihar Assembly elections, the Janata Dal United (JDU) has started poll preparations on all 243 Assembly seats of the state. The polls in the state are scheduled at the end of this year.

Speaking off the record, JDU leaders said that the party wanted to be prepared for any eventuality in case it becomes untenable to continue the alliance in the future.

“Bihar is our home ground and there is nothing wrong if we are strengthening ourselves in all the 243 seats. No one has seen what will happen tomorrow in politics. What if tomorrow the seat-sharing discussions turn sour?” a Patna-based JDU leader said while justifying the party’s move to strengthen itself across Bihar.

According to him, there was a very strong buzz in the party rank and file that the BJP under Amit Shah will ditch the JDU at the last moment, derailing the JDU’s entire election preparation. He quoted the past and recent remarks made by state party leaders, including Sanjay Paswan who recently said that Bihar was “tired” of Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister and now the time was ripe for a BJP Chief Minister.

JDU’s national vice president Prashant Kishor has already announced that the seat-sharing between the two allies should be on the basis of 1.40:1 in which JDU will get 142 seats and BJP 101 seats with both the parties then giving equal number of seat from their quota to the other alliance partner, LJP. State BJP leaders have, however, termed Kishor’s formula as “not worthy of a comment”.

After the reelection of Bashistha Narain Singh as its state president in September 2019, the JDU appointed its regional and district in-charges and district presidents in several districts where it had made no such appointment in the past. The party also appointed organisational in-charge for each of the 243 Assembly constituencies. It also carried a statewide special campaign in November and December to appoint its president and secretary at the booth level. The party has now booth presidents and booth secretaries in all the around 7,20,000 polling booths in the 38 districts.

On his part, to strengthen and galvanise the party’s organisation in the entire state, Nitish Kumar is on a pan-Bihar tour as a part of the “Jal Jeevan Hariyali Abhiyan” (water-life-greenery) that he started on 2 October last year during which he announced 2,391 schemes and inaugurated 32,781 schemes.

Though the tour is supposed to spread awareness regarding conservation of forest and water, Nitish Kumar is using it to speak about the achievements of his government and inaugurate or announce new projects. No BJP leader has been included as a part of this ongoing yatra.

In Motihari last month, while addressing a crowd during this Yatra, Nitish Kumar announced 589 development related project worth Rs 1,000 crore, the execution of which was started by pressing a remote control.

During this ongoing yatra, Kumar focuses on how as a Chief Minister for the last 15 years, he has done work for the betterment of Dalits, Mahadalit, minorities and OBCs. A major part of his speech is focused on how he has worked towards eradicating social evils like dowry, child marriage and how he has successfully executed prohibition law in the state. According to a Patna-based political observer, with the yatra, Kumar has left behind BJP when it comes to poll campaigning. “Bihar BJP is still in a slumber, its leaders are moving around the state to explain people how CAA is not a bad Act. By the time they wake up and start focusing on local issues, Kumar will have concluded his yatra and will be back in Patna and would have started focusing on election strategies. New BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal is yet to even form his team, he has too many bosses—from Amit Shah, Bhupendra Yadav, Nityanand Rai and Sushil Modi—to listen to and hence the delay,” the observer said.

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