Anxiety has gripped the BJP in Bihar after internal assessments that it could be headed for a close fight with the Grand Alliance of Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar and Congress, which may even end in a photo finish.
The BJP took a plunge into the high-stakes Bihar polls with a confidence of a clear victory over the Janata Dal (United), whose electoral tie-up with the Rashtriya Janata Dal on poll eve was considered counterproductive.
The feedback received at BJP headquarters in Patna from party units and other agencies over the last few days, however, suggest that there could be a bigger number of independent and other candidates this time, as compared to the 2010 polls, and they could be crucial in case of a hung verdict. The outgoing assembly had six independents MLAs.
BJP appears to be facing a tougher contest due to many factors — a sizeable number of rebel candidates in its stronghold, a revolt by sitting legislators denied tickets, fear of sabotage by sitting MPs whose recommendation for tickets to their favourites were ignored, a large number of ‘outsider’ candidates, among others. A raging controversy on caste-based reservation, too, has added to the party’s headache.
“We believe we will gain momentum once again with Prime Minister Narendra Modi going on a rally spree this month. His presence will tilt the balance in our favour,” said a BJP leader closely involved with the election-management exercise. Modi is expected to address about 20 rallies covering all five phases.
BJP chief Amit Shah has also been camping in Patna over the last six days, meticulously going through details of each and every constituency.
“His meetings run late into the evening and he does not mind even waking up people to pass an instruction,” a Union minister from Bihar told HT.
About nine ministers and a half-a-dozen MPs have been appointed in-charge of different districts, which have been clubbed into 12 groups, to look into organisational and electoral matters.