National

BJP firms up rainbow coalition against Lalu-Nitish in Bihar

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on June 12, 2015

Amit Shah

To rely on local leaders to take charge of campaign





Closely following arch-rival Nitish Kumar in Bihar, the BJP has firmed up its Dalit-forward caste alliance while appointing strategists to micromanage the closely-fought election.

While the BJP’s main slogan will be “Return to Jungle Raj II”, aimed at underlining Lalu Prasad dismal governance record, the party is mindful of the import of a backward-Muslim consolidation which the “secular” alliance of JD (U), RJD, Congress and possibly the communists may achieve in the poll-bound State.

Vote share

The vote share division as per the 2014 general elections shows that the ruling coalition in Bihar is well placed – RJD (20.46 per cent vote), JD (U) (16.04 per cent), Congress (8.56 per cent), NCP (1.22 per cent) and the CPI (1.17 per cent). This takes the “secular” alliance vote share to over 47 per cent of the total vote share.

The cumulative NDA vote share is just over 36 per cent of the total vote share which includes the BJP (29.86 per cent), LJP (6.50 per cent) and the RLSP with 0.12 per cent of the vote. To add numbers to this base, Amit Shah met former Bihar Chief Minister and Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday evening following which Manjhi has announced his plans to join the NDA.

With Ramvilas Paswan, Manjhi’s induction is aimed at consolidating a rainbow coalition of castes that includes the BJP’s base among the forward castes, Dalits and Mahadalits and Upendra Jushwaha’s Most Backward Caste (MBC) support base among the Koiris.

Although the BJP may face some tension over seat distribution with Manjhi adding his voice to the chorus of Ramvilas Paswan reportedly demanding 80 seats and Kushwaha asking to contest in 40 seats, the BJP believes this is a minor issue that will eventually get sorted out.

The Bihar strategy will be different from the party’s tactics in Delhi where the State was flooded with “outsiders” – all the 282 MPs, ministers and leaders from other states et al. Also unlike Delhi, the BJP is not planning to project any chief ministerial candidate. The BJP believes it suffered a debilitating setback in Delhi because of “over-reliance” on outsiders which included its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi.

The Delhi unit did not take kindly to what was perceived as the party imposing outsiders and it reflected badly in the campaign.

Hence, besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will continue to be the BJP’s chief campaigner, and top Union Minister such as Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, the Bihar campaign will chiefly rely on the local leaders some whom are already Ministers in the Union Cabinet.

Party president Amit Shah will himself monitor the elections. He also appointed Union Ministers Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan as election in-charge and deputy election in-charge respectively.

Besides Ananth Kumar and Pradhan, BJP General Secretary Bhupendra Yadav has been involved in formulating the BJP’s strategy in Bihar. Joint General Secretary Soudan Singh, an RSS appointee in the BJP, is stationed in Bihar for some time now.

Published on June 12, 2015
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