NEW DELHI:The battle for Pataliputra is going to be a close one. The saffron army is marshalling its resources for mounting an offensive on its formidable adversaries in the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance.
The complexity of the contest in Bihar has made the BJP put to use several strategies, for this will be the most keenly contested elections since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Stakes run high for not just foes-turned-allies Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad, but also for the BJP which is keen to redress the electoral setback of the Delhi Assembly polls.
The BJP’s arsenal consists of carpet-bombing the State with its various leaders who will be criss-crossing Bihar. There are likely to be 250 to 300 rallies and conferences every day when the election season peaks.
After returning from the US, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the NDA charge with his rallies. Beginning October 3, he will address over 12 rallies in the next one month as the four phase Assembly polling begins on October 12.
“He is our biggest draw. As we do not have a CM candidate, the elections will be fought on his appeal,” a senior BJP leader said. The BJP has submitted a list of 40 star campaigners to the Election Commission, which include BJP chief Amit Shah, CMs Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raghubar Das, Union ministers like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Smriti Irani; party patriarchs LK Advani and MM Joshi; celebrities like Hema Malini, Navjot Singh Sidhu, actor-MP Manoj Tewari; and ministers from the State.“Election Commission rules mandate a list of 40 leaders. But we have more. Our campaigners may be double that number. But the question is does JDU-RJD-Congress have enough stars to campaign for them,” a BJP leader said.
Forces on the Ground
The BJP is not repeating the mistakes it made during the Delhi elections. A multi-tier structure has been put in place this time. Ministers Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan are looking after the election management, followed by a team of four leaders which has CR Patil and Pawan Sharma, followed by another tier of eight State-level leaders, which includes names like former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, State party chief Mangal Panday and Nand Kishore Yadav. Then there are two more tiers of 40 and 300 leaders, respectively, right up to the mandal level, a key party strategist revealed.
“We have divided responsibilities down to the booth level. A booth-level worker has been told only if he gets 50 to 60 votes, can he can hope for promotion within the party. They have been asked to engage with the decision maker of the family, and meet him as many times before the votes are cast,” party leader said.
Another technique used by the party has been to get voters the benefits of Central schemes such as Jan Dhan Yojna, an insurance scheme. “We gave them signed letters so that people can keep them as records of details of their enrolment. Association helps in better recall,” the leader said. When BJP chief Amit Shah was informed of the initiative of giving party letters for Central schemes, he suggested that 50 lakh such forms be printed, a source disclosed. Another key programme is to bring back thousands of Bihari migrants settled in other States. About 25,000 are expected to return from Surat in Gujarat alone.
The War Room
To maximise its gain in the low-Internet and mobile penetration State, the BJP is taking the help of three lakh volunteers to spread its message on social media. There are dedicated teams in Delhi and Patna to manage its social media campaign for Bihar polls.“The localised content is generated in Patna, which is then relayed through Facebook and Whatsapp. We send the content to our three lakh volunteers. They pass on the content in their friend circles in the State,” said BJP’s new IT cell in charge Amit Malviya.
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