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Published On: Fri, Jun 5th, 2020

BJP’s Virtual Rally May Hint at Nitish Kumar’s Dream

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amit shah-NirishNEW DELHI :Home Minister Amit Shah is all set to kick off a massive virtual rally in Bihar on 9 June ahead of the upcoming state elections later this year.
While there are a lot of speculations on whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will continue its alliance with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Janta Dal (U), the virual rally will also look to raise the offensive on the criticism of Bihar’s handling of the migrant situation.
According to a BJP functionary it has two reasons to choose 9 June for the purpose it is a Tuesday which is considered auspicious for Hindus since it is the day of Lord Hanuman, a deity who is popular in the Hindi heartland. And on the same day, RJD’s Tejaswi Yadav has announced the party would be observing ‘Gareeb Adhikar Diwas.’
Sources In saffron party told that Shah is likely to make an important announcement on whether the party will continue its alliance with JDU, and if it does, some clarity is also expected on whether Nitish Kumar will be the one calling the shots.
Party insiders, many in the BJP feel dumping Nitish Kumar at this point is not a risk worth taking as he still enjoys popular support in the state. With an equal distribution of seats, the two parties together swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls winning all 40 seats. However, many in the state BJP are reportedly hesitant to go for the same arrangement for state assembly elections.
Tejashwi Yadav has said that he will appeal to everyone on 9 June, that they should come forward and protest with a plate, bowl or banana leaf. “Lalu ji used to say that if we can’t have ‘aata’ (flour) in our stomach, then what will people do with ‘data’?”
Yadav is clearly up for an offensive to highlight the hunger and plight of the poor and marginalised during the subsequent lock downs. On the other hand, Shah is expected to counter the claims with the government’s handling of the pandemic and the migrant crisis in the state. Yadav had earlier said that a virtual rally just “mocks the poor, who have suffered the most during the lock down”.
The video conference via Facebook Live aims to address at least one lakh people across the 243 assembly segments in Bihar.
BJP’s Bihar chief Sanjay Jaiswal told IANS that Shah will indeed be the first among many faces who will hold such digital rallies and it will be on 9 June. The 243 Assembly constituencies in the state are expected to have one giant screen each, or at least at places where people can be come together to watch the address.
With the aim to reach out to one lakh people, which includes 38,000 of its cadres, the Bihar BJP expects to connect their phones with Android TVs and also arrange small groups of people to watch the address.
“On June 7, Amit Shah will be addressing party workers that will be live-streamed at 60,000 booths that have internet connectivity. Regular rallies came to a halt due to the pandemic, which will be resumed now with help of digital medium,” Jaiswal told ANI.
Jaiswal said it would be the first time a poltical party in India will hold a virtual rally of its supporters. He said that the concept of a virtual rally is not new as “during 2014 national elections, Narendra Modi had conducted meetings via a 3D medium, thus telling everyone that such kind of rallies is common.”
Ahead of Amit Shah’s digital rally in Bihar on Sunday, widely seen as the launch of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s poll campaign, a key ally’s comment on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may spoil the show of unity.
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan today made it clear he would support the BJP “whether it goes with Nitish Kumar’s leadership or changes its mind”. Chirag Paswan, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan is a minister in  Narendra Modi’s government, also conveyed his dissatisfaction with the way Nitish Kumar handled the migrant crisis, saying it could have been better.
“Who will be the face, who will be the leader of the alliance is something that its largest constituent BJP has to decide. The LJP is strongly with the BJP in whatever decision it takes. If they (BJP) want to go ahead with Nitish Kumar ji, we are with them, if they want to have a change of mind… whatever decision the BJP takes, we will support,” Mr Paswan told Press Trust of India in an interview.
At the same time, he asserted that the NDA would come back to power in Bihar with a huge mandate, winning more than 225 of 242 seats in the assembly.
The BJP has declared Nitish Kumar the chief ministerial face of the ruling NDA for the Bihar election, due later this year, and amid speculation about a rift over the migrant crisis and the corona virus lock down, Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to reiterate it in his online rally.
Reacting to the LJP leader’s comments, Bihar BJP leaders said the party is not in a position to reconsider its decision on Nitish Kumar’s leadership, but they admit the Bihar Chief Minister’s image has taken a beating over his flip-flop on the handling of the migrants’ issue. Sources in the Bihar BJP say they feel Mr Kumar made a mistake by urging the centre to stop the “Shramik” trains.
Mr Paswan has made his point. He apparently wants to deal with the BJP rather than Nitish Kumar, when it comes to the allocation of seats for the Bihar contest.
Last year, Amit Shah had sought to put a lid on talk of a feud between the BJP and Nitish Kumar by declaring that he would lead the alliance in the assembly elections. The announcement helped the allies iron out their differences just before the national election in April-May, in which they scored a landslide in Bihar.
“If the Bihar government had begun transporting migrants earlier, then we could have the example of the likes of Jyoti Kumari. Deaths of many labourers on their way to home could have been probably avoided,” he said, a reference to Nitish Kumar’s early reluctance to allow migrants back into the state.
(With Inputs from Vikas Verma,Patna Bureau)).

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