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'I need Nitish government for development'

Modi Bihar letter betrays nerves

In a last-ditch effort, the Prime Minister’s letter sought to invoke the fear of 'jungle raj' if the Opposition alliance came to power, underlining the need for order in the state for development

J.P. Yadav   |   New Delhi   |   Published 06.11.20, 03:49 AM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday tweeted a letter addressed to the voters of Bihar, underscoring that he “needs” a Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in the state to ensure development. 

The letter, issued on the last day of campaigning for the final phase of polling on Saturday, seemed to betray desperation in the NDA camp. Ground reports from the two rounds of polling have suggested that large sections of voters were being driven by simmering discontent against the three-term Nitish-led government in Bihar.

“Main Bihar ke vikas ko lekar bahut aaswast hoon. Bihar ke vikas mein koi kami na aaye, vikas ki yojnayen atke nahi, bhatke nahi, isliye mujhe Bihar mein Nitish ji ki sarkar ki zarurat hai (I am convinced about Bihar’s development. To ensure there are no shortcomings in Bihar’s development, development schemes don’t get obstructed, don’t go awry, I need Nitish’s government),” Modi said in the four-page letter on his Twitter handle. 

The letter was posted minutes before campaigning in Bihar closed at 5pm.

Modi’s appeal came soon after Nitish sought to draw sympathy by telling a rally in Purnea that this was his “last” election. This remark of Nitish was also seen as a sign of desperation although sources later suggested he meant last election rally. Nitish anyway is not contesting the Assembly polls.

The Prime Minister’s letter sought to again invoke the fear of “jungle raj” if the Opposition alliance came to power, underlining the need for order in the state for development. 

“Avyavastha aur arajakta ke vatavaran mein nav nirman asambhav hota hai (Development is impossible in an atmosphere of disorder and anarchy),” Modi said and stressed that only the NDA can provide this. 

Modi said “better infrastructure” and “rule of law” were imperative for the social and economic prosperity of Bihar. He claimed that since 2005 in the state, change has been ushered in and continuance of the “double-engine” government (the NDA at the Centre as well as in the state) was needed to take the process forward. 

Modi has addressed around a dozen rallies in Bihar and in almost all of them he has tried to resurrect the “jungle raj” fear. BJP managers feel that the only way to counter public anger against the Nitish government was to invoke fear of an RJD rule in Bihar.

After two rounds of polling, several BJP leaders have started to concede that the strategy may not be working to the desired extent and hence the last-minute letter appeal from the top in a bid to change the drift of the voters.

The BJP fears that the lure of jobs (RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has been promising 10 lakh government jobs) may be driving young voters and blurring caste lines. Large chunks of first-time voters have no memory of the RJD rule that ended 15 years ago.

“PM@narendramodi pens a heartfelt letter for Bihar’s people,” tweeted BJP general secretary and Bihar minder Bhupendra Yadav. “BJP ensured Bihar polls are fought on the issue of development, and the NDA under Shri Modi’s leadership will set Bihar on the path of unprecedented development,” he added. 

This was interpreted as urgency on the part of the BJP to use Modi’s assurance, despite anger against Nitish, in a last-ditch effort to get the voters to back the NDA. 

In his letter, Modi counted the different welfare schemes of his government to try and provide a guarantee to the voters to get them to back the NDA and ignore the failures of the Nitish government.

The BJP had initially planned to undercut partner Nitish and gain the upper hand in Bihar but party strategists now worry that their plan could be going awry. They fear that if Nitish sinks beyond their calculation, he can also take them down along with him. 

“Nitish’s party is contesting half of the total seats. If the JDU performs very badly, as it appears to be happening, then it would be very difficult to reach the majority mark,” a BJP leader said. 

The party has also been banking on Chirag Paswan’s LJP to form an alliance post-poll and help the BJP form the government. But many BJP leaders fear the LJP may not win enough seats.

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