Patna: The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidates and leaders in Bihar are being greeted with angry protests, slogans, black flags and brickbats as they seek support of the villagers. The villagers are angry over the candidates’ failures to fulfil the commitments they made to them in the last assembly polls.
A BJP candidate Subhash Singh and Janata Dal United (JD-U) candidate Chandrasen Prasad had a narrow escape when their motorcades were attacked in Gopalganj and Nalanda districts respectively on Friday. Both the candidates had gone to their respective areas to seek support of the villagers when the situation got out of control. Although the candidates escaped unhurt, around 12 vehicles were damaged in the incidents. Both the candidates have registered cases with the local police who are probing the incidents.
An even uglier incident took place in Samastipur district earlier this week when Bihar minister for Planning and Development Maheshwar Hazari faced angry protests from the villagers. The minister had gone to Pusa village riding pillion on his supporter’s bike when he was blocked by the villagers who asked him to leave the village soon.
“How did you dare to enter this village? Leave,” the villagers were caught on camera bluntly telling the minister who had no option but to retreat. The videonow gone viral on social media. The minister comes from the JD-U which is headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Bihar Labour minister Vijay Kumar Sinha, Agriculture minister Prem Kumar and Education minister Krishna Nandan Verma too have faced similar protests in their respective constituencies for failing to live up to people’s expectations.
Two villages in Jehanabad district even banned the entry of leaders for ignoring them for so long. The residents from BaVishunpur-Hadhar said they were tired of hearing empty promises from the leaders and hence have banned their entry in their village.
“Most of the time, the ministers and ruling party leaders have been found just criticising the rival parties while they have no time to look into our troubles. They were nowhere to be seen when we somehow reached our homes from various cities after lockdown but now that elections are around, they have begun knocking our doors and greeting us with folded hands,” said Rajendar Ram, a migrant worker from Aurangabad. He worked in a company in Delhi but after lockdown he had to return home since his company was closed.
The masses have also been heckling the politicians leading the poll campaigns. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar himself faced such protests twice at his election rallies in Gaya and Saran district this week. Federal Minister of State for Power Raj Kumar Singh too was greeted with black flags in Bhojpur while federal Minister of State for Nityanand Rai faced angry protests in Vaishali district.
Although a number of alliance are trying their luck in the elections, it is boiling down to a straight fight between the NDA and the Grand Alliance on majority of the seats while the entry of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Chirag Paswan, son of Dalit politician late Ram Vilas Paswan, has made the contest further interesting.
Although the LJP is a key ally of the BJP at the Centre, it has gone it alone in Bihar, but what is more interesting, it has fielded candidates mostly against the JD-U of chief minister Nitish Kumar. The move is set to split the NDA votes which could benefit the opposition Grand Alliance. Experts believe the LJP has the tacit support of the BJP which wants to clip Nitish’s wings.
The confusion among the NDA voters heightened further as Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to say anything over the issue and clear the doubts from the minds of the voters. Although the PM addressed as many as three election rallies in Bihar on Friday, he went mysteriously silent over BJP’s relations with the LJP.
Experts said PM’s explanations would have brought a full stop on it although BJP leaders like Federal home minister Amit Shah and Prakash Javadekar, federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, have given clarification over the BJP-LJP relations. “Instead, PM’s silence has further increased the suspense,” commented a political expert.
The opposition alliance, GA, has kept its campaign focussed on giving one million jobs to the youths while the ruling NDA has been targeting the previous 15-year-old regime of Lalu Prasad and his family, blaming it for all the ills Bihar is currently plagued with. Lalu and his family ran the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government from 1990 to 2005.
In the last 2015 assembly polls, Nitish Kumar was a part of the Grand Alliance which got a historic mandate with 178 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly, thus making him become chief minister for the third time in a row. But barely 20 months into the GA government, Nitish broke alliance with the RJD and formed his new government with the support of the BJP against which he had got the mandate. The BJP was able to win only 53 seats despite PM Modi himself leading the poll campaign and addressing as many as 26 election rallies which were a record by any PM addressing so many rallies in a state election.