BJP counts on Yogi to exorcise ghost of Bihar assembly poll loss to Nitish-led alliance
The Uttar Pradesh CM will visit Darbhanga on Thursday to disseminate among party workers in Bihar some the effervescence generated by the BJP’s big victory in the UP assembly elections in March.
When Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath addresses a public gathering at the north Bihar district headquarters town of Darbhanga, on Thursday, he’ll do more than just showcase the achievements of the Narendra Modi government, over the past three years.
The saffron-clad monk-politician will make that appearance as much for being an embodiment of the BJP’s greatest electoral success since its inception in India’s politically most significant state – its 312 seats out of total 403 seats victory, in the assembly election in UP in March.
As such, Yogi is being counted upon to apply the ‘feel good factor’ arising out of the spectacular UP victory, to lift the BJP in Bihar, still recovering from its stunning defeat at the hands of the RJD-JD (U)-Congress ‘grand alliance’, in the November 2015 assembly poll.
Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai tacitly acknowledged this on the eve of Yogi’s trip. “With his own very successful 100 days in office as CM of UP, Yogiji will add the whiff of the party’s big victory in UP to the achievements of the Modi government”, Rai told HT on Wednesday.
He also reiterated that the BJP had cancelled a proposed public meeting of Yogi, in the state capital, on June 15, because of party workers’ preoccupation with the mayor’s election in Patna on June 19.
“However, the cancellation was seen as a sign of a lack of confidence in the party’s ability to organize a grand public show that is commensurate with the huge public standing that Yogi enjoys at present”, said a senior BJP leader, in private.
The party that Rai heads in Bihar surely needs the ‘Yogi booster’, considering it does not have to its credit even a single state-wide agitation since the November 2015 poll, in which it won just 53 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly, to 178 seats secured by the ‘grand alliance’.
Rather, the BJP’s most effective role as the principal opposition party in Bihar may be ascribed to the doings of just one of its leaders – former deputy CM Sushil Modi, who, in this endeavour, appeared to receive little support from other leaders of the party.
Modi’s series of revelations on the ‘unexplained’ properties acquired by members of RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s immediate family, appeared not only to put him in a spot, but, with the JD (U) not coming out in support of Prasad, has also driven a wedge within the ruling grand alliance (GA).
GA constituents - the RJD and JD (U), have, in recent months, been taking divergent positions on a variety of issues, including demonetization and presidential poll. To add to the alliance worries is possible impact on Bihar of the emerging caste configurations in UP.
For example, say BJP leaders, the Kushwaha, a major OBC caste, which is believed to have played a big role in the grand alliance victory in Bihar, appeared to have gone the BJP’s way in UP and has a new leader in UP deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya.
“That the UP caste arithmetic has the Bihar leaders worried became clear on Monday when (chief minister) Nitishji reacted very sharply to remarks made here on Sunday by the UP deputy CM”, said senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav.
Maurya had dared the Bihar CM to go in for snap polls if he was confident of his ‘Sushasan’ (governance) and performance. “The people have made up their mind to vote out apavitra (unholy) and asafal (failed) alliance in Bihar”, he had said.
Reacting sharply to Maurya’s remarks, Kumar said on Monday: “Yes, I am ready to recommend polls tomorrow if the UP Assembly is also dissolved and fresh elections are held”.
Visits of top leaders, including Maurya and Yogi, has them participating in ‘Modi Fest’, being organized by the BJP between May 15 and June 20, to project the achievements of Modi government and energise the rank and file of the party.