On 24 October, BJP president Amit Shah, speaking to a group of journalists in Patna, refuted the argument that a negative result for the party in the Bihar elections will affect the Centre’s reformist zeal and policy momentum. Shah also said that the results of the Assembly polls can never be a reflection of BJP’s performance at the Centre.
Reacting to Shah’s statement, JD(U) spokesperson Nihora Prasad Yadav says, “The BJP chief (Shah) seems to have accepted the defeat of his party in the Assembly elections. A couple of months back, while talking about BJP’s success in the Karnataka municipal elections, a number of its influential leaders, including Shah, had termed the victory as a sign of acceptance of the Modi government at the Centre. Sensing the mood of the Bihar electorate, Shah is looking for an escape route this time.”
As if these were not enough, the statement by Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley during his visit to Patna on 25 October has also weakened the enthusiasm of NDA workers. Known as a troubleshooter in the BJP, Jaitley said, “Going by the inputs collected, I can firmly say that the NDA would improve its tally from the 21 seats that it won in the 2010 Assembly elections in the 81 Assembly constituencies which went to poll in two phases. A handful of penpushers are creating artificial propaganda against our electoral prospects in Bihar.”
It would be interesting to recall that the BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi and the party state president Mangal Pandey, respectively, had boasted during the second phase of voting that the NDA would win at least 60 of the 81 seats that went to the polls. Ironically, the Jaitley statement is in stark contrast to the claims of these two BJP stalwarts.
Perhaps the BJP, after reading the writing on the wall, is utilising all the arms and ammunitions at its disposal to overtake the Grand Alliance in the remaining 162 seats, voting for which takes place in three phases on 28 October, 1 and 5 November respectively. Many Union ministers have been touring each and every constituency with the sole aim of securing a clear lead for the NDA in the elections. As many as 16 choppers have been hired by the NDA to ferry the leaders across the state for the purpose.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly taken the reins in his own hands. A minister close to Modi says that the PM has made up his mind to address more meetings with the intention of attacking the potential rivals. “As a seasoned politician, he understands better than us the implications in case the Grand Alliance registers victory in the elections,” he says.
Modi has not wasted any opportunity to blunt the attack of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on reservation for OBCs. “Nobody can snatch reservation provided by Baba Saheb Ambedkar (BR Ambedkar) in the Constitution,” Modi says at every meeting.