In the run-up to by-elections in 10 assembly constituencies — being termed mini assembly elections — a significant development took place last week.
Amidst a tug of war between the Congress and the Janata Dal (United) over Narkatiaganj seat, the BJP inducted Rashmi Verma — an aspiring candidate of the state’s ruling party — into the saffron fold and fielded her as a candidate from the seat.
“The BJP-led NDA’s strategy for the August 21 polls to counter the challenge of the JD (U)/ RJD/Congress combine is clear. To choose ‘winnability’ over other factors and play around divisions in the secular camp to build upon its gains in the recent parliamentary elections,” said an observer.
The byelections are symbolically vital for the BJP in particular — which held six of the 10 seats that have fallen vacant.
The combined vote share of the RJD, JD (U) and Congress in the previous elections has been higher than the NDA partners, but cobbling together of these parties is also viewed as opportunistic and temporary.
The secular camp has also been weakened because of fissures from within. JD (U) MLA Rajiv Ranjan claimed that 65 of the total 116 party legislators were opposed to the alliance, threatening a major decision after August 25.
Others in the rebel camp, including Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo and Ravindra Rai, have also been vocal against the decision to side with RJD.
Sections upset with the alliance in the state Congress have also raised concerns with the central party leadership. “The alliance with the RJD in particular will diminish the Congress of all gains made by it in past years when it contested elections on its own,” Congress leader Kishore Kumar Jha told HT.