BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav, in-charge of poll-bound Bihar, speaks to The Indian Express about his party’s prospects and campaign plan for the state, and asserts that the BJP, JD(U) and LJP will fight the Assembly poll under the leadership of CM Nitish Kumar.
When the state is grappling with issues related to the pandemic and lockdown, how do you see the prospects of the NDA in Bihar elections?
The NDA government under the leadership of Nitish Kumar in the last 15 years has made impressive achievement in sectors like education, roads, drinking water and electricity. There has been increase in the budget and agricultural growth. Now the BJP is committed to changing that picture of Bihar into a self-reliant state, which is the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP president J P Nadda will be in Bihar in the weekend and lay the foundation for that vision with people’s participation.
Bihar faced a crisis because of returning migrant workers — around 15 lakh — but with railway services resuming, 30-40 per cent of them have already gone back to the states where they worked. The government succeeded in reaching rations and other essentials to people during difficult times, it built quarantine centres, the death rate has been low. The state also faced floods, but assistance was reached in time. So people have goodwill for the state and central governments.
The campaign for this election will be different. How are you planning to do it effectively? Do you agree that digital campaign gives “rich” parties an upper hand?
Technology keeps changing and politics is a medium of communication. Today, in democratic governments, election is the most pious object. Basic commitment of every party is to communicate their views, awaken voters. Times have changed. Earlier, even Gandhiji was an editor in print media, then came television when party spokespersons were considered big leaders, and now it is the undisputed time of digital media. In Bihar, BJP has 1,100 mandals and we have had virtual meetings everywhere. Digital contact is a reality even in remote areas. It is contradictory that RJD objects to digital campaign but they use social media to communicate.
In my personal experience, digital communication has become very cheap. It does not need the logistics for a physical rally or meeting. I want to ask Tejashwi Yadav, how much money is spent on reaching a tweet of his to 10,000 people?
So, there will not be any physical rallies?
Human contact is crucial and door-to-door campaign has its own significance. Election Commission has made new guidelines and special preparations. We wanted elections to be held on time and there should not be any constitutional crisis. So, there will be Jan Sabhas following EC norms, road shows, campaigns, etc. It’s a phase everyone is going through. So we need to keep safety, security, democracy and public rights in mind and balance all these.
There has been some talk about NDA not fighting the election together. LJP has talked about fighting separately?
I think BJP has done quite well in keeping the alliance together. In Bihar, all three parties, BJP, JD(U) and LJP, fought the Lok Sabha elections together. I think we will fight the upcoming election together, and fight strongly.
If the LJP splits from NDA, how would it impact you?
We don’t talk on hypothesis. In Bihar, NDA is strong and people know that. People want to choose NDA.
But some in the BJP think that LJP fighting separately could be good for the BJP in the long run?
There is no such discussion. NDA will fight election together under the leadership of Nitish Kumar.
BJP has not been able to project a face for Bihar, and this is cited as a reason for the party’s keenness in going with the JDU). Is there any effort from the party to prop up some faces?
For Bihar elections, there’s clarity on one thing: we will fight under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. But BJP has more than 80 lakh members in Bihar. We all are committed to taking forward the party’s vision. We have a team of young leaders and they work as a team.
Are you confident that Nitish Kumar will be able to complete the five-year term?
Yes, we will have an NDA government which is stable, development-oriented and able for five years. Nitish Kumar will complete the term.
Recently the Supreme Court said that states can sub-classify the list of SCs, STs and SEBCs. But BJP has a stand that is opposed to regrouping of caste while JD(U) has benefited from it. Comment?
As far as Bihar is concerned, categorisation is there already. It’s a matter that could be different from state to state. Our party is clear that reservation is a constitutional right and we not only agree to it but will do everything to see that the last person gets its advantages.
PM Narendra Modi’s rallies play a crucial role in BJP’s campaign. How far will Bihar see his rallies and addresses this time?
PM Modi’s rallies energise not just BJP workers but also common voters. So we will have his rallies, following EC guidelines. Modi and other leaders will go there.
State BJP leaders wanted the party to have equal share in seat-sharing?
The party will discuss such issues with its leaders, and the final decision is taken at the Parliamentary Board meeting. It’s an ongoing process.