Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 25
Though the BJP swept the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the fact is the saffron party has not been faring well in Assembly elections almost since 2018. The trend that started with the Assembly elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2018 and continued with Maharashtra, Haryana, Delhi and Jharkhand in 2019.
And this happened despite a spectacular performance by the party in the Lok Sabha earlier in the year under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Since then, the party has managed to topple governments in Karnataka and MP and form one in Haryana in alliance with the party it fought against, the JJP. The decrease in vote share in Jharkhand in 2019 may be a cause for worry in neighbouring Bihar, where elections were today announced by the Election Commission.
Notably, the Jharkhand result was partly attributed to the huge dip in BJP’s vote share in urban areas which benefited the JMM and its allies. This may be a cause for worry for the NDA allies in Bihar (BJP, JD-U and LJP), who are yet to resolve seat-sharing and other issues.
Though the BJP believes that it has the upper hand given the state of the Opposition in Bihar, those associated with grass-roots believe “the ground reality there, like in Jharkhand (Assembly elections). is far from what it appears from far”.
“If you think Sushant Singh Rajput (late Bollywood star from Bihar) is an issue, think again. Ram Mandir is no issue in the state where anything related to ‘Mandal Commission’ (reservation) still has the potential to knock down a party as it happened with the BJP in 2015.
“The backward classes, the EBCs, the Muslim community etc, their votes and issues will decide the fate of parties, upper castes have their own grievances. The floods have played havoc and large tracks of farmlands have been submerged, parties have to keep all that in mind,” they say.
BJP’s focus areas include Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s self-reliance pitch (Atmanirbhar Bihar) and monetary help, rations and the MNREGA jobs to migrants after they reached Bihar during the COVID lockdown.
With JD-U’s Nitish Kumar as its face, the party also expects dividends from the three agri-reform bills. The MSP and the APMC are not an issue in Bihar but anti-incumbency is a factor, leaders say.
BJP president JP Nadda is learnt to have asked the party MPs to work not only for ensuring victory for the party candidates but also the nominees of constituents of the NDA and project unity in the alliance.
Whether status quo in Bihar or winds of change, as the BJP prepares to roll out its high pitch e-blitzkrieg powered by money and resources the question is can the rivals match it to turn the situation in their favour.
‘Digital raths’ and ‘e-electioneering’ are the new normal in the COVID times. So far, the saffron party is concerned, it has an edge over the others on digital and social media, and high-tech campaigns as it is more experienced than others.
The upcoming Bihar elections will not just test parties but also voters of the state where caste combinations, social situations and poverty continue to be the biggest issues.
This time, there is more.
According to political observers, the combination of coronavirus pandemic, resultant migrant crisis and job losses, and recent floods have the potential to lead to “some unexpected results”.