NEW DELHI: Getting into election mode, the BJP on Friday appointed two of its senior leaders as election incharge in poll-bound Bihar.
Union Minister Ananth Kumar has been made election incharge for party, while MoS for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan was appointed co-incharge to take on Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad combine.
BJP chief Amit Shah will be in Patna on the occasion of June 21 International Yoga Day, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit the state capital on June 30 for the inauguration of IIT Patna.
Though an official function, the PM’s presence at the event will be used to energise the BJP cadre and send a message to the electorate. Shah will be in Patna for two days, where he will hold meetings with party workers. Interestingly, Shah had timed his earlier visits to the state to coincide with the birth anniversaries of Karpuri Thakur and B R Ambedkar.
The BJP also intends to hold its next National Executive in Bihar before the elections. As the saffron party has an alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan and Upendra Kushawa’s parties, it has roped in Jitan Ram Manjhi into the party fold.
A top BJP source said still more parties could be accommodated in the alliance. As seat- sharing is likely to be a major sticking point, the BJP has decided to let the state unit to take the call. “The seat-sharing will be decided by the state unit. The central leadership will stay away, but the decision to declare a CM candidate or not will be taken by BJP’s Parliamentary Board,” the source said.
During the 2010 elections, the BJP had won 91 out of the 102 seats it contested, while the JD(U), which was its ally then, had contested 141 seats and won 115. While the BJP had got a vote share of 16.49 per cent, the JD(U) garnered 22.58 per cent vote share. Both the allies split before the 2014 elections in which the BJP-led alliance won 31 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, which translated into BJP leading in 174 Assembly segments.
This time around the BJP has set ‘Mission 185 plus’ for the elections to the 243-seat Assembly.
Currently, the BJP has a tough challenge in front of them in form of RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance, as dominant castes are likely to support it. “A big chunk of the Dalit vote will not vote for the RJD-JD(U),” a senior BJP leader claimed.
For the BJP,though, the opportunity lies is wedging a rift between foes-turned-friends Nitish and Lalu. “People do not accept a huge shift in stance. In this case, Nitish had won the elections on plank of opposing Lalu and positioned himself as an anti-Congress leader. Now he has changed tack. Biharis will not accept this,” the leader said.