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Initial euphoria of nationalism on way out in Bihar?

Initial euphoria of nationalism on way out in Bihar?
April 15
11:12 2019

By Madhu Mishra

PATNA: The undercurrent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was pervading the Bihar’s electoral horizon, seems to be getting thinned by the day.

Contrary to the allegations that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be benefitted from the ‘over-stretched’ polling—divided into seven phases, things are not shaping up in favour of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) despite internal bickering in the Grand Alliance(GA), comprising the Congress, RJD, RLSP, HAM-S and VIP.

Political observers feel that initial hype created over nationalism, post Pulwama attack and cross-border military operations in Pak occupied Kashmir, began evaporating after the Congress president Rahul Gandhi mounted attack on the BJP-led dispensation and tried to draw the people’s attention towards the core issues—poverty, joblessness and price rise.

Till the first phase of polling, April 11, it was virtually ‘Modi vs No-Modi’, as people mostly rally behind the Prime Minister, thinking that the country was in the safe hands and its prestige would be better safe-guarded at the international forums by him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public rally in Latur

However, as days passed on and the opposition intensified its campaign at the grassroots level with ‘Nyay’—a scheme envisaging doling out Rs 72,000 in accounts of the 20% poor—and growing dissension with the BJP over dropping of its stalwarts from the poll fray seem to have compounded the problems for the ruling alliance.

The BJP suffered the first major jolt in Bihar in the run-up to the prestigious Lok Sabha elections, when it five sitting seats to the JD(U), its new ally under the NDA. Against its previous tally of 22, the BJP is contesting only 17 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

DM Diwakar, former director of the SN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, felt that all seats would have a keen contest and it was difficult to predict now as who would emerge victorious. “Popular perception in Bihar has been altered, what it was perceived to be during the initial phases. Earlier, it appeared that the NDA would sweep the elections,” said Diwakar.

Senior Congress leader and MLC Prem Chandra Mishra foresaw victory of GA candidates on most of the seats, claiming that people were now discussing the real issues of development, patronization of corruption and dumping of the BJP stalwarts in the most agonizing way.

“Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘chowkidar chor hai’ slogan are getting wider appeal with the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the biggest-ever defence deal of Rafale. The tax relief worth over Rs 1100 crore granted to Anil Ambani’s company by the France Government has further established massive corruption in the deal,” said Mishra.

Kirti Azad

Kirti Azad

The independent survey conducted to assess winning possibility of the NDA and the GA also began showing declining share of seats of the BJP-led alliance across the country. Upper castes are also getting disinterested towards the BJP as it dropped many sitting MPs like Shatrughan Sinha, Kirti Azad and Suresh Chandra Mishra. A recent letter of BJP senior Murli Manohar Joshi, who was denied ticket to contest, to Lal Krishna Advani, also predicted bad results for the BJP. However, BJP dismissed the letter to be fake.

The letter written by over 150 veterans of Armed forces to the President over politicization of the defence personnel’s act also had its impact on the electorates.

The decline in net approval rating of the Narendra Modi government to 12 points between March 12 and April 12, according to the CVOTER-IANS tracker, is also being discussed among the people. The performance rating of Centra Government peaked in the days after the Balakot air strike on February 26, touching the highest level of 62.06 on March 7.

BJP president Amit Shah’s statement to enforce the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and his emphasis on driving all ‘infiltrators’ out of the country has made the minority community, who constitute over 15% of the electors, rally strongly behind the GA in Bihar.

Modi’s focus on nationalism during poll campaign

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