Information trickling down to Patna from the saffron headquarters in Delhi suggests that the BJP sees itself in choppy waters after two phases of voting. The BJP war room is dissatisfied with the second phase for 32 constituencies held on 16 October.
A source in the BJP revealed that while the leadership had expected a considerable edge over the Grand Alliance (GA), with Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi in its kitty to add to the party’s already strong influence among the upper castes, the feedback has been poor. “ Reports reaching us from the constituencies suggest that the rebels and weak nominees fielded by our alliance partners have been spoilsports letting the GA score over us,” he says.
A firebrand BJP leader whose face is synonymous with national television debates is so despondent that he is praying for the cancellation of voting in his constituency. His voice breaking, he tells Tehelka over the phone, “There was an undercurrent during the polling in favour of Nitish Kumar. I concede my defeat right away.”
The second phase has apparently gone the same way as the first. Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Union minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship, in his interview to a national English daily on 16 October admitted that “the first phase of elections should have been favourable for the NDA but that has not been the case”.
Also, a daily newspaper quoting sources in the BJP made it a lead khabar that “an internal assessment made by the BJP pointed out that the rival Grand Alliance (GA) has taken the lead in the first phase of voting for 49 seats on October 12”.
“The BJP’s full-page advertisement in vernacular dailies on 17 October targeting Nitish Kumar is a sign of desperation,” says JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar MLC. The ad depicted a letter from Nitish to the then chief minister Lalu Prasad, accusing the government of several wrongdoings. “What forced the BJP to publish a 23-year old letter?” asks Kumar.
In the first phase of 2010 assembly elections, the JD(U) won 30 seats followed by the BJP with 12, the RJD with four, the Congress with two and the CPI with one. However, in the Modi wave that blew during 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the situation turned on its head with the NDA winning 38, the RJD bagging nine and JD(U) getting wiped out.
Similarly, in the second phase in 2010, JD(U), BJP and RJD won 19, 10 and two seats respectively. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the JD(U) again scored a duck and the RJD managed one seat. The NDA was once more the clear winner with 29 seats.