| Sushil Kumar Modi at an election rally in Saharsa on Thursday. (PTI) |
Patna, May 10: “Modified” was the word used by even BJP leaders to describe the general election campaign.
“It was just as well we did not have to rely on local leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav and C.P. Thakur. In fact, Giriraj Singh damaged the party by making a statement just before the third phase of polls,” said a senior BJP leader pointing out that it was on the issue of Narendra Modi the 17-year alliance with the JD(U)’s Nitish Kumar snapped.
“It is natural that our campaign should be Modified,” he added. Naturally, it was the meetings of Narendra Modi, which drew crowds — not that of the state leaders.
When the friendship with the JD(U) snapped, the state BJP leadership was uncomfortable as its social base was the smallest — an upper caste and Baniya. But by launching the series of Vishwasghat rallies across the state right down to the district level, the state leaders made a fertile ground for the entry of Narendra Modi. They projected Nitish as the man who had betrayed the 2010 mandate. “It was a mistake on our part by accepting Nitish’s demand not to allow Modi in Bihar,” said the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ravishankar Prasad.
Not surprisingly, the state leaders have been fending off verbal attacks both from the RJD and the JD(U) against Narendra Modi through the entire campaign. “Both Nitish and Lalu do not want a son of backward caste who sold tea as a boy,” Modi said repeatedly in his speeches.
The state BJP, however, continued to attack its former ally Nitish more forcefully than Lalu. It did not allow him to take the credit of development in the state pointing out that the BJP was a full-time partner in that process. Sushil Modi also accused the JD(U) of fielding weak candidates to help the RJD. “It served its purpose as the JD(U) candidates have been virtually pushed to the third position in most places,” said another senior BJP leader.
However, the masterstroke came when the state party leaders were able to rope in LJP Ram Vilas Paswan and RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha giving a boost to the social combination of the party-inclusion of Paswans and a part of the Kushwaha voters.