| State BJP chief Mangal Pandey at the party office on Tuesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, Jan. 7: The BJP looks better battle-ready for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls than the other mainline parties — the Congress, JD(U), RJD and the LJP — in the state.
Senior BJP leaders, including the party’s in-charge of Bihar affairs Dharmendra Pradhan, general secretary (organisation) Saudan Singh, Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shahnawaz Hussain, had a long closed-door session with the cadre today, fine-tuning the party’s strategy for the general elections. Sources said the BJP in its bid to not to look like isolated in the era of coalition politics had decided in principle to have an alliance with the Loktantrik Samata Party of Upendra Kushwaha on a couple of seats. “We are not looking for alliance with any other outfit than Kushwaha’s,” the party spokesperson, Sanjay Mayukh, said.
Kushwaha, an emerging Koiri leader, formed the party after breaking away from the JD(U).
Sources said the party’s four-pronged poll strategy would be sharing the credit of whatever good has happened in Bihar under the seven-and-a-half years of the JD(U)-BJP rule, making Nitish the prime target of attack apart from the Congress, projecting its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as the “better performer and stronger face” than Nitish and staying soft on the RJD boss, Lalu Prasad.
“Be it the empowerment of the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) by ensuring them reservation in the local bodies or showering other largesse on them, the BJP has played a pioneering role during the NDA rule in Bihar. The party having an array of EBC leaders in its rank treats them as its own,” Sushil Modi said, accusing Nitish of hurting the cause of the EBCs by breaking the alliance.
Modi’s remarks were interpreted as the BJP’s strategy to woo the EBCs, constituting about 28 per cent of the state electorate that Nitish is believed to have nurtured as the “vote bank” for his JD(U).
Despite Lalu’s relentless attack on Narendra Modi, the BJP strategists have adopted softer posture on him for two reasons. They believe that the Muslim votes, accounting for almost 16 per cent of the state electorate, would split between the Lalu-led coalition and Nitish’s JD(U) in the event of the RJD boss gaining in strength. Second, the BJP do not want to anger the Yadavs, who constitute about 15 per cent of the voters and treat Lalu as their “icon”.