On Sunday, BJP National President, JP Nadda addressed a rally in Gaya as part of the party’s election campaign in Bihar. The BJP is a part of the ruling alliance in the state with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) as well as (the now estranged) Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).
The LJP lost a stalwart with Ram Vilas Paswan’s death on October 8. His son Chirag had earlier openly challenged Nitish Kumar, after Jitin Ram Manjhi switched sides to join the alliance. Manjhi’s vote base is identical to that of Paswan. LJP decided to go its own way this election and even released a list of 42 candidates including many who defected to the LJP from the BJP. These include Rameshwar Chaurasiya, Usha Vidyarthi and Rajendra Singh who have been given the party ticket to contest from Sasaram, Paliganj and Dinara respectively.
लोक जनशक्ति पार्टी के सभी प्रत्याशीयों को ढेर सारी बधाई।बिहार के आने वाले भविष्य लिए आप सभी का जीतना ज़रूरी है।जे॰डी॰यू॰ को वोट देने का मतलब बिहार को बर्बाद करना। पापा की सेहत ज़्यादा ख़राब होने के कारण आप सब के बीच अभी नहीं आ पा रहा हूँ।पापा की सेहत ठीक होते ही आप सब के साथ बीच pic.twitter.com/WHm4bPPIfN
— युवा बिहारी चिराग पासवान (@iChiragPaswan) October 8, 2020
Moreover, given how Nitish Kumar has himself been swinging partners to remain in power; first embracing the BJP, then switching allegiance to the RJD, and then running back to the BJP, his allegiance cannot be taken for granted and the BJP has to work extra hard to hold on to him.
Meanwhile a new political alliance has taken shape in Bihar with the coming together of Pappu Yadav led Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) and Dalit rights activist Chandrashekhar Azad’s Samaj Party. Other members of this alliance are Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP) and MK Faizi’s Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). This alliance appears to be targeting the secular and Dalit-Bahujan votes.
Amidst such a flux, one would expect the BJP to employ the big guns to keep the house in order, and there is no one more formidable than Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the job. He draws big crowds wherever he goes and is known for his rousing speeches. But Shah appears to be missing in action on the ground, content on supervising poll prep from Delhi.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) October 10, 2020
But Nadda seems to be fitting quite well into his role, driving the campaign on the ground. At a rally at Gandhi Maidan in Gaya on Sunday, Nadda dutifully marketed Brand Modi as the panacea to all of Bihar’s problems saying that development in Bihar would only be possible with the Modi regime at the centre. Nadda reminded voters about the Ujjawal scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Ayushman Bharat and the latest Samvita Card for farmers.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set Indians and especially farmers free when it comes to land and revenue related matters. People will now get digital cards showing property ownership in 6.32 lakh villages. Now, one would not be required to make rounds of the patwari (Officer maintaining land ownership records). All work related to verification and measurement will be conducted via drones and satellites after verification,” said Nadda dutifully pushing the Digital India dream in a state where people still struggle for round the clock electricity, let alone internet connectivity.
His speech largely focused on the achievements of his dear and any mention of Nitish Kumar appeared perfunctory. On the subject of the estrangement from the LJP, Nadda urged the voters to forget differences and not enter pointless debates.