By hook or by crook, Bihar has to be won

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Given the unsatisfactory performance of the NDA in the last two phases, his visits have been revised and increased up to 17. He has vigorously attacked arch rivals Sonia Gandhi, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad during his campaigning to consolidate the votes of Mahadalits and the Extremely Backward Castes (EBC). Cautioning the OBCs against the Grand Alliance, he says if it comes to power, the combination of three idiots would take away a five percent quota from their share.

Modi is understood to have found a suitable weapon in the form of the meeting Nitish Kumar had with a tantrik, videos of which came to the fore recently. The sting footage shows Nitish seeking blessings to reap political advantage in the elections. The tantrik is heard suggesting Nitish maintain a distance from Lalu Prasad. However, the meeting with the tantrik occurred just before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls .

By playing up the meeting, Modi wants to convey to the electorate that Nitish is planning the development of the state through occult rather than scientific methods.

“In the 21st century, both the elder and younger brothers talk of practising tantra-mantra and jadu-tona for the betterment of the state, thereby resorting to regressive politics,” said Modi while addressing various rallies between 25 and 27 October. Understandably, the leakage of the Nitish-tantrik video has dented the CM’s image and put him on the defensive.

Reportedly on Modi’s advice, the BJP has shifted its entire focus on making strong inroads into the pockets of EBCs and Mahadalits. In fact, panic has set in among the NDA leaders after getting to know that Yadavs, Kurmis, Kushwahas and Muslims have leaned towards the Grand Alliance in the early phases.

A former Union minister, who is presently a Rajya Sabha member, tells Tehelka, “Majority of the people belonging to Kushwaha community have thrown their weight behind Grand Alliance candidates during the two phases of polling.”

According to political observers, the trend indicates that 4.5 percent of people belonging to the Kushwaha community have been disillusioned by Upendra Kushwaha, Union Minister of State for Education, as their leader in just 16 months. They had danced to his tunes during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The statement of Bhagwat on OBC reservation also seems to have alienated the Kushwahas from the BJP.

However, Mantri Kushwaha of Karakat from Rohtas has a different story to tell. According to him, the Kushwahas are angry with the BJP as the party did not treat their leader at par with Ram Vilas Paswan while distributing tickets. “We swallowed the humiliation only to teach the saffron party a lesson at an appropriate time,” he said.

By roping in Bhim Singh, a former minister in the Nitish government, the BJP has certainly scored over the Grand Alliance as far as influence among the EBCs is concerned. The GA certainly does not have an EBC leader to match Bhim’s stature. The BJP has already used Prem Kumar as its EBC poster boy to woo voters in a big way. Off and on, he is projected as the CM nominee by the BJP to woo voters from that caste.

Billionaire fisherman Mukesh Sahani, an upcoming leader, has also been given the responsibility to woo people belonging to his caste at any cost. Apart from visiting the villages dominated by his caste men, he is offering full-page advertisement in Hindi dailies published from Bihar, urging his tribes to strengthen Modi’s hands with their votes. EBC leaders from Uttar Pradesh such as Dara Singh Chauhan and SP Baghel, former MPs, are assigned the job of consolidating their caste in favour of the BJP in the later phases of elections. These EBC leaders from UP are touring the state in separate choppers.

Meanwhile, the Bihar elections are getting spiced up with allegations and counter-allegations by leaders of various parties. False promises are also being made to woo the voters in their respective constituencies. Leaders see nothing wrong with these tactics. However, even in the heat and dust of election campaigns, the question does arise: Is it legitimate to hoodwink voters to win elections?

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