On a day when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his new Cabinet after joining hands with the RJD in Bihar, the BJP central leadership asked its state leaders to gear up for an aggressive fight – Sadak se Sadan – for Mission 2024, during a meeting with the core group members of its Bihar unit at the party headquarters on Tuesday.
The Bihar leaders have been asked to take the development – Nitish’s exit from the NDA to join hands with the RJD-led Grand Alliance against whom it fought the last Assembly elections – as “an opportunity for the party to emerge as a formidable force”, sources said. “We have been asked to put up an aggressive fight – from every corner and every angle. We have to reach out to every section of society,” said a leader who was part of the meeting. Sources said the party has decided to strengthen its booth committees in the coming days and there was no discussion on changes in the state unit.
BJP president J P Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh attended the meeting with the Bihar unit leaders. “The new alliance in Bihar is a betrayal with the people and it has given a backdoor entry to Lalu raj. We will have ‘Sadak se Sadan’ protests…The party will contest the elections under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and with the messiah of the poor at the helm, the BJP will win more than 35 seats [Lok Sabha],” BJP Bihar president Sanjay Jaiswal said after the meeting.
Admitting that fighting elections alone in Bihar will be a tough task, party leaders, however, said a robust organisation on the ground will make it easier. “For the BJP, Lok Sabha elections will be very comfortable. Every person in Bihar has seen how dedicated Prime Minister Modi is for their cause. They know that Modiji is also from a backward community and that he is committed to Bihar’s development. Every seat the alliance won was because of this trust,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, former Union minister and MP from Bihar, told The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Jaiswal said in the last eight years, the BJP has built individual teams for more than 63,000 of the total 74,000 booths in Bihar. “We have teams for every booth. We are confident that it will help the party to get more than 35 seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, and two-thirds majority in the next Assembly elections,” Jaiswal said.
Although the meeting did not discuss any changes in the state unit, sources said there could be a rejig.
With JDU breaking away, the BJP’s biggest fear is its support base among the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) or Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), which Kumar had brought in for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2020 state elections. In the caste-based political equations and electoral tests, the combination of Muslims and Yadavs (the traditional support base of the RJD) with the MBCs, which account for 17 per cent, can create a serious threat to the BJP. In at least eight districts in Mithila and Magadh regions, the party had heavily banked on Nitish’s goodwill. The NDA had won 39 of the 40 seats – 16 for JDU, 17 for BJP and six for LJP – in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP argues that it was the popularity of Modi and the welfare schemes initiated by his government at the Centre that had played a key role in the victory of the NDA in the two elections.
Party leaders admitted that wrong calculations in Bihar could cost the party dear in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, because it is the only eastern state where the party can expect a decent tally while the picture is yet not clear in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha.