An assessment of the voting pattern for 81 seats that went to polls in the first two phases has made the BJP rework its strategy for the remaining three phases of the Bihar assembly elections. Instead of wooing the Yadavs, who appear to be mostly rallying behind the Grand Alliance (GA), the BJP is now focussing on leaders of Dalit groups and the scattered vote bank of the extremely backward castes (EBCs) in its ranks and among its allies. The campaigns will also see a touch of women power now.
The Dalits and EBCs – often called the silent voters – account for almost 50% of the voters in Bihar, and they can tip the scale in the remaining 162 seats where the stakes are high for both the BJP-led NDA and GA.
In the first two phases, women outnumbered men to record an average 58.5% turnout. Women, who are 47% of the total electorate, are believed to have voted for improved law and order during the Nitish Kumar regime, eight years of which were in alliance with the BJP.
“Our party is convinced that Yadavs are solidly behind GA and so there is no point wasting time on them,” said a senior party leader, seeking anonymity. The NDA, though, has more than 20 Yadav candidates (out of 28 it has fielded) to fall back upon in the remaining three phases on October 28, November 1 and 5.
Besides, to woo women voters, the BJP has decided to increase the campaign frequency of leaders such as Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani and also plans to rope in Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia for the remaining phases.
Meanwhile, both groups claim to have secured an edge in the last two phases of voting. “The NDA has a lead of 50-55 seats at the end of the second round. I thank the women who voted against increasing crime, incidents of rape, Lalu’s jungle raj and Nitish Kumar’s drive to open liquor shops in every by-lane,” said former deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi.
“We are going to get at least 22 out of the 32 seats in the second phase,” said BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
The GA is equally buoyant, particularly after BJP’s assessment suggesting GA was ahead on the 49 seats of first phase. “At least 65 (of 81) seats is sure. Our assessment is based on the turnout of the poor, Dalits, minorities and women. It’s a vote against the false promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Pragati Mehta, RJD spokesperson.
“BJP has lost its footing. We will form the government comfortably,” said Vijay Kumar Chowdhary, JD(U) leader and state’s water resource development minister.