Readying for the Bihar assembly polls to be held later this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to field about half a dozen Muslim candidates. This comes as the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) are working towards an alliance to take on the BJP.
“Muslims in Bihar are not as hostile towards the BJP, as they may be in other parts of the country. We plan to field Muslim candidates...About half a dozen of them would contest on a BJP ticket and some others as nominees of our ally, the Lok Janshakti Party,” former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told HT.
Out of a total of 102 candidates, the BJP fielded just one Muslim in the 2010 election.
Notwithstanding hardline statements by BJP leaders and the controversial ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme, Modi argued that the NDA government has performed much better than what the minority community may have thought and there could be a need to “soften” them a bit more.
Yadavs and Muslims continue to form the core support base of the RJD and a merger with the JD(U) adds numerically and politically significant MBCs and Mahadalits to it.
Of the total 3.53 crore votes polled in Bihar during last year’s Lok Sabha poll, the RJD got over 72 lakh votes in 27 Lok Sabha seats compared to the JD(U)’s figure of 57 lakh across 38 seats. The BJP got 1.05 crore votes in 30 seats and the LJP 23 lakh votes.
“The RJD-JD(U) merger may look strong on paper, but will have its own problems…the charisma of Narendra Modi will benefit the BJP,” the ex-deputy CM added.
The BJP is confident that the merger would lead to a clash of interests between rival caste groups — like the Yadavs and the MBCs — and that could be to the BJP’s advantage.