Nothing seems to have helped the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar that is going into the first phase of polling on October 28 more than Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first set of three rallies on a single day. Modi’s address at three different places– Sasaram, Gaya and Bhagalpur on October 23 has so electrified the alliance that both BJP and JD(U) leaders no longer feel overwhelmed by the political project that two young men in their 30s had unleashed in the state . One was by Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav who was seen raising a storm among people by promising to create 10 lakh jobs as soon he wins the elections . The other was a newbie in the bloc — Chirag Paswan of Lok Janshakti Party, who talked of carrying Modi in his heart but went around vowing to end Nitish Kumar’s Raj in the state. To achieve his end , he even tapped disgruntled BJP leaders in the state and is said to be fielding about two dozen or more of such rebels as his candidates in seats that went to JD(U) as part of seat sharing -pact between the two NDA allies.
In his first address, it were these two young men who were on top of Modi’s mind as he sent an unequivocal message to voters. Paying obeisance to Chirag’s late father Ram Vilas Paswan, Modi talked about ” commendable clarity of thought” among Bihari people “who are never under any confusion or misconception.”. Asserting that NDA was returning to power, he warned against fence-sitters who may be inclined to back Chirarg , saying ” some people are trying to spread rumours claiming that a new power is emerging .But the people of Bihar are not going to be fooled.” These words of the PM directly went on to puncture hopes of many in the LJP. Many in the BJP feel though as late Paswan’s son Chirag may get some sympathy, his ability to mobilise votes just as his father did would be put to test.” Ramvilas Paswan was a great mobiliser, ” acknowledged a BJP leader.
It must be said that it may seem a little odd that after being in office for 15-years ,Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today needs hand-holding by Modi to win this time. From a leader who was once so reluctant to be seen in company of Modi because of Godhra 2002 riots and had refused to even host dinner for BJP national executive held in June 2010 as Bihar CM because of some misgivings over some Gujarat Government advertisement , Nitish has ensured that the JD(U) as a party has no problems carrying pictures of the PM in its posters and does not mind leaning on Modi to consolidate its vote. ” Of course wherever we are holding a joint rally we do carry pictures of the PM,” says a JD(U) leader.
As humongous crowds flock to RJD youth icon Tejashwi’s rallies and hear him talk about creating 10 lakh jobs as soon as he wins elections , the JD(U) quietly works out the lies behind such statistics — about how the RJD first family has been taking plots of land from people in lieu of jobs.It launched a counter campaign- with a tagline” magru ka zameen kab lautayenge” . The campaign is a teaser asking Lalu Prasad’s family to return land to those from whom it has taken as a warning to voters .
” We are not worried about Tejashwi job talk. Tejashwi talks of creating 10 lakh jobs and we know it is based some 4 lakh vacancies — when there are only about 1.7 lakh vacant posts . Our Government had already initiated moves to fill up some 70,000 once the polls are over. To create 10 lakh jobs , we must have after all adequate budget size, ” points out JD(U leader Dr Ajay Alok. He also feels crowds that the youthful RJD leader has been pulling should not surprise anyone as his community does aggressively mobilise support for him.” Our support base of EBC/MBC voters will speak only on polling day. We have also asked them to lie low till then.”
Apart from giving voice to urgent concern of their generation– namely employment , BJP sources admit that arrival of Tejashwi and Chirag on Bihar political scene has completely altered the election scene in the state. It has put major pressure on parties like BJP to field younger candidates . ” Lot of young people have been given opportunities in the organisation as well, ” points out a Vajpayee era minister .
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.