BJP president Amit Shah’s arrival in Patna on Friday set the war drums rolling for a party aiming to wrest a majority in assembly elections this year as it faces a grand Janata alliance that seems to be coming undone even before taking off.
Fresh off its spectacular run in the Lok Sabha and a clutch of state polls, the BJP is seeking to bag more than 185 seats in the 243-member assembly with Shah trying to corner the crucial extremely backward caste vote.
He arrived on socialist icon and former chief minister Karpoori Thakur’s birthday and addressed an EBC rally, the significance of which wasn’t lost on anyone. The symbolism of Narendra Modi as a tea vendor is also set to be projected.
The party says it was cheated of its 2010 mandate — when it won 206 seats with the JD(U) — after Nitish Kumar pulled out of the alliance in 2013 over Modi being named the BJP’s PM candidate.
Late 2014 saw former Janata parivar constituents — including the JD(U), Lalu Prasad’s RJD and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP — trying to come together to stop the BJP but differences have since sprouted up between them.
“The BJP should focus only on Nitish – his ego that split Bihar and his folly in cosying up to Lalu, whom Kumar and the BJP had both combined to oust after 15 years of ‘misrule’,” said senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi recently.
And with the 22 seats it earned in the Lok Sabha — inclusive of at least 110 assembly constituencies — BJP leaders hope its Mission 185+ is within reach with the help of allies.
The disarray in the ruling JD(U) is only expected to help.
At a Wednesday lunch, 10 pro-Nitish ministers were to be seen bur their two senior colleagues were missing. The BJP’s united face stands in stark contrast.
The party, however, has worries of its own.
“When Shah meets his senior leaders, fence sitters would be a challenge. If the BJP accommodates more JD(U) leaders, how would it rein in loyal followers who have waited all these years?” asked a senior leader.