NEW DELHI: The Election Commission set the ball rolling for the most keenly fought elections since 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The five-phase Bihar assembly elections would come as a relief for the BJP which would be taking on formidable caste combination of the Nitish-Lalu alliance.
The ruling JDU-RJD combine were vocal that they would have liked a single phase polls so that they fate of the state is decided in a single day, but the election commission went for five phase for easy deployment of central forces, and even keeping the schedule of festivals in mind.
Like it happened during the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP strategy would be to shift its political fire-power and stance depending upon the voters turn out and their preferences during the early phases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies, his political message coupled with ground movement of foot workers for remaining phases is what BJP aims to do to maximise its strength.
The last phase of elections would happen on November 5, which is close to Diwali, when maximum number of seats would go to poll. The Diwali falls on November 12 and Bihari festival Chhatt on November 17. This would mean that migrant Bihari workers who return to their state in droves. The BJP which has been hardselling its dream of progress and is a ruling party in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana which has high number of Bihari workers would hope to gain through their votes.
Moreover, the election commission had kept gap of 13 days between second phase (October 16) and third phase (October 28), as Dussehra is on October 22. The BJP hopes to maximise its gain from this phase onwards.
The phase one and phase two have 49 and 32 seats. The BJP is also banking on central forces which will prevent any manipulations at the polling booths. Cheif elections commissioner Nasim Zaidi declared that there were adequate central forces at their disposal.
According to the BJP strategicians as they are not projecting a CM candidate but contesting elections on PM’s appeal they would like to have the largest chunk of seats around 160 to emerge as the key player in the state.
As the elections dates have been announced there were signs of bickering between the NDA allies like Jitan Ram Manjhi and Ram Vilas Paswan who are eying the same dalit votes. Both leaders separately met BJP’s Bihar election in-charge Ananth Kumar, union minister.
Manjhi and Paswan have been demanding higher share of seats. Paswan is likely to get second highest seats after BJP.
Paswan said seat distribution will be announced in two-three days as he met BJP leader and its
Manjhi, who has attacked Paswan's credentials as a Dalit leader and made demand for more seats than reportedly being considered by BJP, also held talks with Kumar but declined to talk about the number of seats his fledgling outfit wanted to fight.
Manjhi said his attack on Paswan was like a fight between two brothers so not much be read into it. Manjhi has claimed that he has 12 sitting MLAs while LJP and Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP have none.