The BJP has been late off the blocks in competing with Nitish Kumar, who has launched a professionally managed publicity campaign ahead of the elections in Bihar, but it has finally set about launching a counterattack, with sources saying all the election material is being prepared in Delhi.
The planned counterattack involves a four-pronged strategy focused almost entirely of Nitish, who is the chief ministerial face of his alliance, with Lalu Prasad having endorsed him.
The BJP will seek to compare the NDA’s eight-and-a-half years in power to Nitish’s one-and-a-half years after the split, dwell on his partnership with Lalu Prasad’s “jungle raj” and Nitish being his partner now, list the central NDA government’s achievements in one year, and mock Nitish, “once the avowed enemy of Congress”, for not blinking in taking its support to save the JD(U) government.
Nitish has already taken on Narendra Modi head-on, saying, “Bahut hua jumlon ka vaar, phir ek baar Nitish Kumar (Enough of slogans, let there be a Nitish government once again)”.
The first BJP ad in response to Nitish’s publicity blitzkrieg attacks the CM for rising crime, corruption and alleged arrogance. The BJP also attacks the Lalu-Nitish tie-up by questioning if they can ensure development. The ad war, however, has taken a break for the time being because the model code is in place for the July 7 polls to 24 seats in the Bihar Legislative Council.
Party leaders say the BJP’s campaign will incorporate what the Centre has given Bihar so far. “An IIM, another AIIMS, central university status to the agriculture university, a textile cluster in Bhagalpur, a petrochemicals complex in Begusarai, a gas pipeline between Haldia in Bengal and Jagdishpur (Bhojpur), expansion of Barauni refinery and reopening of Barauni fertilisers factory, and Vikramshila University will be our answer to Nitish Kumar,” said a leader.
The BJP will ask why Nitish Kumar has not been able to “add a single scheme after the NDA split”. “We are shareholders in the development of eight-and-a-half years. It is Nitish Kumar who has to answer why the Ara-Chhapra bridge has not yet come up, why the Rajauli-Bakhtiyarpur four-lane project has not yet got under way,” said another BJP leader, adding Nitish’s campaign manager Prashant Kishore has not even come up with an original slogan on Nitish and only imitated “Abki baar Modi Sarkar”.