With the Lok Sabha election in 2024 fast-approaching, the battle between the seven-party alliance of Mahagathbandhan and the BJP on the Bihar turf is getting heated up. While the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) will be holding a joint rally in Purnia district in northeast Bihar on February 25, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to make his third visit to the State after the JD(U) snapped its ties with the BJP in August 2022.
“We will hold a joint rally of all seven parties in Purnia from where Amit Shah had addressed his first rally in September 2022. They (BJP) want to finish regional parties but we will not allow this to happen,” Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav told mediapersons on February 10.
Mr. Yadav said an internal survey in the BJP had projected a very dismal picture for the party in the 2024 election. “Ever since the survey said the BJP will lose 37 out of the total 40 Parliamentary seats in Bihar and that the battle will be very tough for the other three seats, the party has gone in a panic mode,” added Mr. Yadav.
Offers on the table
Meanwhile, party sources in Bihar BJP told The Hindu that it has mulled a strategy to take former Chief Minister and Mahagathbandhan ally Jitan Ram Manjhi and the two warring factions of erstwhile Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Chirag Paswan and his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras along in the State to counter the vote bank of the grand alliance.
However, Mr. Paswan has always been reluctant with the offer as long as his uncle is part of the NDA at the Centre. “Besides, the Vikassheel Insaan Party of Mukesh Sahani and leaders like Upendra Kushwaha, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, too, are in touch with the BJP,” said a senior BJP leader in Bihar, adding that the party’s top leadership in Delhi has chalked out a meticulous political plan for the 40 Lok Sabha seats in the State.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s scheduled visit to the State, a third one in the last five months, will aim to enthuse the State party leaders and workers. On February 22, Mr. Shah is scheduled to participate in the birth anniversary programme of peasant leader Swami Sahajanand Saraswati at Bapu Sabhagar in Patna. Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, who was born in upper caste Bhumihar community, had fought against land owners in the first half of the 20th century. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Thakur, son of senior BJP leader in Bihar C.P. Thakur, is organising the event.
Earlier, Mr. Shah had visited Purnia and Kishanganj on September 23-24 last year to address a public meeting and meet party leaders and workers to mull over the party’s strategy for the upcoming Parliamentary polls. Later, on October 11, Mr. Shah took part in programmes to mark the birth anniversary of Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan at Sitab Diara in the State.
The Home Minister’s visit to Bihar again on February 22 assumes significance as it is planned at a time when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is currently on his Samadhan Yatra (solution journey), poll strategist Prashant Kishor is on a Jan Suraaj Yatra and also while a caste-based survey is going on in the State.
“Since the Lok Sabha poll is just a year ago, two blocks of political parties in Bihar – the Mahagathbandhan and the BJP have started taking strong moves to outdo each other. In a caste-ridden society of Bihar, both the political blocks are trying to make dent in each other’s vote bank,” said political analyst Ajay Kumar.