Bihar Assembly Elections 2015

Wary BJP changes tack in Bihar

With no clear trend emerging from the first phase of the Bihar Assembly election held for 49 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party has apparently changed its campaign tack to be in the reckoning in the next four phases. The BJP had so far been banking on its star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma while splashing the city and highways across the State with his huge cut-outs and posters. Now, for the first time, the facts and faces on the posters and hoardings have changed.

On the busy Dak Bunglow thoroughfare, the centre of the city, a new billboard has sprung up overnight displaying faces of senior State BJP leaders like Sushil Modi, C.P. Thakur, Ashwani Choubey and Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav — all belonging to different castes. Surprisingly, the pictures of both the star campaigners of the party — Mr. Modi and party president Amit Shah — are missing.

Even the captions and contours of the billboard have changed. Earlier, it was “Abki Baar, Modi Sarkar (this time Modi government)”; then came the “Badaliye Sarkar, Badaliye Bihar (change the government, change Bihar) with PM Modi and Mr. Shah looking from a corner. But, now, the billboard says, “Vikas ki hogi tej rafter, Jab kendra-rajya mein ek sarkar (development will take pace when the same government is in power at the Centre and in the State).

Promises galore

The billboard also promises to provide loan on zero per cent interest for agriculture, a colour TV for every Dalit and Mahadalit family, five decimal land each to the homeless and a pair of dhoti-saree to every poor family. Even the local newspapers have some fresh BJP advertisements with pictures of even the alliance partner leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party, Upendra Kushwaha of the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Jitan Ram Manjhi of Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) on them.

With the caption “Bhajapa ka saath, Sabka Vikas (with BJP, development of all), a vernacular newspaper on Wednesday, surprisingly, carried a front-page BJP advertisement without pictures of any party leader. It only mentioned 11 promises — from free scooters to 5,000 talented girl students to Rs. one lakh to those unemployed for opening a small shop.

Poll observers, however, see it in a different perspective. “It’s not off-the-cuff but a well thought out strategy after the first phase poll. The overexposure of their star campaigner — Mr. Narendra Modi — has not gone down well with the voters so the party has been forced to change tack,” S.N. Sinha, a poll observer, told The Hindu.

Party insiders too said senior party leaders were not very happy with the trend of the first phase.

Allies a worried lot

Though senior leaders of the LJP, HAM(S) and RLSP have maintained silence over the apparent failure of the BJP’s campaign in the first phase, second-rung leaders have started voicing their apprehensions, ‘off the record.’

However, leaders from both camps — the BJP-led NDA and the Nitish-Lalu-led ‘grand alliance’ have claimed that they would get not less than 34-36 seats in the first phase, but according to poll observers, the battle has become even “more tough and unpredictable.”

Unconfirmed sources, meanwhile, told The Hindu that after “getting not-so-encouraging feedback,” the Prime Minister too could make changes in his Bihar programme. He is all set to address close to 40 poll meetings in the State in the next 12 days.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 5:22:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/bihar2015/bihar-assembly-elections-2015-wary-bjp-changes-tack-in-bihar/article7762303.ece

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