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Buoyed up BJP to replicate ‘UP strategy’ in Bihar

Right-wing party taking steps to win support of Muslims

Gulf News

Patna: Bolstered by its landslide victory in just-held assembly polls in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has now planned to replicate its “UP strategy” in Bihar aimed at wearing away the huge Muslim support from the ruling Grand Alliance, which is head by the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Muslims, who account for around 17 per cent of Bihar’s population, had largely voted for the Grand Alliance in the last 2015 state polls.

Under part of this strategy, the BJP leadership plans to identify the prominent Muslim faces with clean image and taking their support in reaching out to the vast minority class voters. The party leadership is hopeful of luring progressive women and poor people from the community to its fold. It is also working on the strategy to spread Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of development among the community.

“We will follow our party’s UP model which largely succeeded in weaning away progressive women and poor people of the community from the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP),” state BJP president Nityanand Rai was quoted as saying in a local media Monday.

According to him, the party volunteers would very soon reach the Muslim-dominated districts and educate the minority voters about the schemes being run by the Indian government for imparting them proper education and poverty alleviation. “We are quite hopeful to get their support in Bihar as well,” Rai said.

BJP officials said the party leadership is also in the process of identifying prominent Muslim faces. One such name is Jamshed Ashraf, a former Bihar minister who was axed by chief minister Nitish Kumar in 2010 after he alleged the officials working in the CM’s Secretariat were involved in the multi-million dollar excise scam in Bihar.

Ashraf who is known as the progressive Muslim face has founded “Muslim Bedari Muhim” (awareness campaign for Muslims), apparently influenced by Modi’s idea of development. According to him, BJP’s win in UP, particularly in Deoband assembly constituency, has conveyed the strong message that the Muslim community has largely backed Modi’s development model.

He is not wrong. Reports said there were about 124 assembly seats in UP which had dominant Muslim population, ranging from 20 to 30 per cent. Of them, the BJP was able to win 99 of them, amply indicating the support of the Muslim community. The BJP claims its key mantra of “Sabka saath, sabha vikas” (Support of every community and equal development to all)” has now become a big hit.

The whole idea is to prepare the strong party base in Bihar ahead of the next 2019 Lok Sabha elections which the BJP wants to win at all cost. Until recently, the BJP was largely dependent on the support of the 14 per cent upper caste voters. But now the BJP under PM Modi and party chief Amit Shah has completely altered the party strategy and has been working hard to get the support of each community — especially the vast backward class and the Muslims as was seen in the case of Uttar Pradesh where the BJP stunned the poll pundits by getting three-fourth majority in the 403-member assembly.