FLY ON THE WALL
Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
JD (U) slide worries BJP
Irrespective of Modi’s undiminished Charisma and immense popular appeal, the BJP leadership has a reason to worry in Bihar. As the state enters the second phase of bitterly fought polarized battle, the BJP is rattled as its key partner Nitish Kumar’s graph is on the downhill. The mishandling of migrant labourers and Coronavirus issues may cost him dearly and hurt BJP more in the months to come if the NDA loses Bihar. It is not as if the BJP was not aware of the sliding graph of Nitish Kumar. All internal surveys conducted by the RSS and the BJP signaled that Nitish Kumar's popularity is waning. The vocal Bihar BJP leadership wanted to go alone smelling blood riding on Modi wave. It was in this background that PM Modi, BJP president J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah held two rounds of talks on Bihar in June-July. A conscious decision was taken to go with Janata Dal (U) as the consequences of dumping Nitish Kumar could have been fatal. It would have pushed Nitish Kumar to go back to the RJD-Congress. In order to off-set the anti-incumbency factor of Nitish Kumar, a buffer zone of sort in the form of LJP’s Chirag Paswan was created. It was done with the hope that LJP could cut into anti-Nitish Kumar votes which otherwise would have gone to the RJD-Congress-Left combine. But as the campaigning picking up, collapse of JD (U) is more visible. Secondly, Coronavirus has invaded the top leadership of the BJP beginning with Devendra Fadnavis, Sushil Modi, Mangal Pandey, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Hussian and others. Amit Shah is also out of action.
BJP's Bihar Waterloo
The BJP was on the seventh Heaven after its tumultuous win in May 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But its stars started fading as it suffered one loss after the other in states. If it failed to form a government in Maharashtra, it had to depend on Dushyant Chautala in Haryana to form the government. Then it suffered humiliating defeats in Jharkhand and Delhi in 2020. Therefore, a Bihar win is vital for the BJP. A Bihar loss will have a direct bearing in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, kerala, Puducherry and Assam where Assembly polls are due early next year. Many in the BJP say it will be happy to emerge as a single largest party in Bihar. Therefore, the BJP has changed its strategy mid-way. It may hold a few rallies of the PM in constituencies where BJP candidates are contesting without Nitish Kumar. Some posters are already out in the public without Nitish Kumar. Secondly, the PM will be more aggressive in his speeches in the days to come.
Priyanka back in Lutyen’s Delhi
After a brief stint in Gurugram in Haryana, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is back in Lutyen’s Delhi. She vacated her government bungalow a couple of months ago when the Modi dispensation served a notice. She shifted to Gurugram for a short while and now back in Sujan Singh Park near Khan Market. However, she doesn’t meet political workers at her residence due to paucity of space. Her security guards are having a tough time as the residential complex itself is very small.
Ram Madhav’s big slide
It seems BJP’s rising star has run out of luck with the party. He was incharge of the Jammu & Kashmir affairs and North East. He too played a key role in formulating BJP's J&K policy and helped forming governments in some of the North East states. He runs India Foundation which worked for Modi in the US and other countries before he became the PM. When he was removed as BJP as general secretary, it was widely believed that he will get a Rajya Sabha seat and possibly a ministerial berth when reshuffle takes place. It was also expected that he will be nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh where the BJP is set to win at least eight out of ten seats. But his name didn’t figure in the list. It now transpires that he is vacating his South Avenue government flat also which he had been allotted as general secretary. The last word on his new assignment is yet to be heard. One report is that he may now go back to the RSS as he is now full time “Sangh Pracharak”.