It happened minutes after television channels aired visuals of celebrations by BJP workers over the news of Narendra Modi’s candidature from Varanasi.
Prem Prakash Pandey, treasurer of the Kaimur unit of the BJP, called up party chief Jitendra Pandey in the district headquarters town of Bhabua in western Bihar, about 80 km east of Varanasi.
“Pandeyji, Arjun seema par pahunch gailan. Ab laksh bhed nishchit ba (Arjun has reached the mark, it is certain that he’ll hit the bull’s eye),” said Prem in chaste Bhojpuri, a dialect favoured equally on both sides of the Bihar-UP border.
“Very true,” Jitendra replied, his voice choking with emotion.
The jury is still out on the extent to which Modi’s Varanasi gambit will enhance the BJP’s prospects in the districts of Bihar that are contiguous to eastern Uttar Pradesh and enjoy a shared socio-cultural ambience. But what the move has already accomplished is to charge up the rank and file across at least eight Lok Sabha seats — Sasaram, Karakat, Aurangabad, Buxar and Ara, Siwan, Gopalganj and West Champaran. “The people here have a strong emotional bond with Varanasi,” said Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey.
DM Diwakar, director of Patna thinktank AN Sinha institute of social sciences, however, is more circumspect.
“Modi may have a positive impact in constituencies in which the BJP is not weighed down by anti-incumbency. But his shadow will also facilitate sharper polarisation of the significant Muslim vote,” Diwakar argued. Experts believe the same ‘contiguity’ that is being counted on for Modi to further the BJP prospects will be counter-balanced by the strong presence of the BSP in eastern UP. “To underestimate its influence will be to miss the big picture,” Diwakar said.