BJP's Bihar battle: Amit Shah eyes Dalit votes, targets Nitish
BJP president Amit Shah blew the poll bugle in Bihar on Tuesday with a rally on Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s 124th birth anniversary, a move viewed as a greater strategy to woo the state’s scheduled caste voters.india Updated: Apr 14, 2015 21:40 IST
BJP president Amit Shah blew the poll bugle in Bihar on Tuesday with a rally on Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s 124th birth anniversary, a move viewed as a greater strategy to woo the state’s scheduled caste voters.
Shah said the next assembly elections in Bihar, due this year, would see a saffron tide sweeping away the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and its ally, Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
“This government cannot last. It used the BJP’s help to forge a mandate to come to power only to backstab a friend. Now, it has gone back to join forces with the same regime (Lalu) against whom the people of Bihar fought a war to cleanse the state. But no matter what alliance or grand alliance it forges, it just cannot win this war,” he said addressing a BJP workers’ rally along with Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
The BJP’s mega show at the historic Gandhi Maidan forced chief minister Kumar to restrict his programme honouring the Dalit icon to a simple function at the JD(U) office. He said the BJP was “masquerading” to win the votes of the weaker section in the assembly polls.
“People who have nothing to do with the ideology of the Dalit icon are observing his anniversary,” he said. “Ambedkar championed the cause of the deprived section of society. Whereas the BJP's views are totally opposite as they believe in dividing society and exploiting weaker sections for political gains.”
The BJP rally was called on Ambedkar Jayanti as the party has been aggressively gunning for Bihar’s Dalit electorate, which has turned vocal after JD(U) dissident Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Mahadalit, was ousted from the chief minister’s post on January 20.
Shah did not refer to the Manjhi’s removal nor did home minister Singh, though the Mahadalit leader has been cosying up to the BJP with a series of meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP chief exhorted workers to go all out to win a two-thirds majority in the polls. “You will have to work the way you did to get Modi in power ... It’s our responsibility that we win Bihar, the same way as we did in Haryana, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir.”
A Bihar victory is vital for the BJP after its Delhi debacle, which appeared to have slowed down the momentum the party had gained nationally.
Shah targeted Kumar and the proposed grand alliance of former Janata Dal constituents.
“It is Nitish Kumar who backstabbed the mandate the people gave the NDA and it is he who has ushered jungle raj in Bihar through the backdoor again … You must beware. If the grand alliance wins, Bihar would be ruled by Nitish or Rabri, but Bihar will not develop. Only Narendra Modi can make that difference.”
(With agency inputs)