Behind the poll intrigue in Bihar

The Bihar polls have so far seen plenty of strategies and counter strategies being adopted. First Modi thought it was a master-stroke to play the development card and promised a Rs. 1.25 lakh crore package for Bihar. At that time posters of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were widely splashed across the state. No local leaders were represented. Lalu Yadav and company got wise to this. Officially they did not make any statement. But they told their party workers to spread the word among the people that just like these two Gujaratis are extracting work from Biharis in Gujarat, they will replicate the same in Bihar. In other words, they will force Biharis to work for long hours in their home turf. On sensing this strategy, the BJP took away the posters of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi and replaced them with posters of local politicians like Jeetendra Manji. Locals contesting the Bihar polls gained prominence in the eye of the people for strategic reasons. Early on, the BJP also came out with a strategy of giving migrant Bihari laborers in Gujarat and Maharashtra three months pay and vacation to visit their home state and influence other voters. They had used the same strategy in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time Nitish got wise to it and received support from Kejriwal in allowing migrant Bihari workers in and around Delhi to get vacation and come to their home state richer by three months wages. When RSS came out with a bloomer on reservations, Nitish and company played it up to the hilt. Realizing that they were forced on the back foot the BJP first distanced itself from the statement. Subsequently, the RSS gave a press note stating that they were not against reservations. Right now what happened in the Delhi state elections seems to be replicating here. Meaning the electorate also responds with a strategy. In Delhi, the Muslims voted en masse for Kejriwal. Had they voted for the Congress as they had traditionally done the BJP would have swept the polls. The Maha Ghat Bandhan which prevents the split of votes between Congress, Lalu’s Party and Nitish’s party has made it easier for the Muslims in Bihar to make their choice. Also, the intemperate utterances in the aftermath of the Dadra beef incident, has united the otherwise splinterered Muslim vote. The BJP CEO Amit Shah has now again started rethinking strategies for the remaining phases of polling. In fact, he privately reprimanded the loose cannons in the Party and let it be known to the press. In short, the BJP which started the poll plank on an aggressive not has been forced to go into damage control mode.

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