BJP strategy behind backing Manjhi in Bihar: Lose now to win later

  • Mammen Mathew, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Feb 21, 2015 01:18 IST

The Bihar BJP is confident it has acted well in standing by former chief minister, Jitan Ram Manjhi, and that was the 'correct stand'. Sushil Kumar Modi said, "The BJP was never interested in seizing power. It did not try to take it by hook or crook. We just do not believe in it and the governor should invite Nitish to be sworn in". He said, "What we did was to right a wrong-in as much as that Nitish Kumar after having put a Mahadalit as CM was the one to unseat him by force of machinations, threats and intimidation. We are with the dalit community, which has been wronged".

However, insiders say, the BJP has been tactful all along and careful to appear politically correct. "We are already preparing for the next elections. Manjhi's loss or gain was not a matter of concern, for it was assessed correctly, that either way, he would win, so would our stand", said a top leader.

He said, a series of assessment sessions among legislators, think tanks, affiliates unmistakably pointed to a huge ground swell of sentiment for 'wronged' Manjhi-a Mahadalit. "This was unheard of. It means, that the dalits identify with Manjhi. There is assertiveness in their attitude to the extent that they will brook no resistance-whether now, or later and electorally. That is the big arithmetic, which points to a certain realignment", said MP Ram Kripal Yadav.

While, no one would 'agree' in public that the BJP covets these votes, more so with Manjhi, which the party believes has emerged as a gamechanger with close to 40 pro-dalit cabinet decisions in his tenure, they all agree, that a dalit-EBC, middle caste, upper caste vote base with sections of OBC votes would sweep away Bihar to recreate another Narendra Modi wave. The NDA vote share — with dalit-OBC leaders as, Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha could win it 39% votes against a fractured opposition of RJD, JD-U and Congress — garnering 34.5%

The BJP sees Manjhi as the 'most valuable ally' but he would first have to create a party to directly tap into the 60 reserved seats out of 243, which he could claim with the BJP. Manjhi is the dream and the handle for BJP's wish for power in Bihar, post November 2015.

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