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Does BJP’s beef ad betray its desperation to win Bihar polls?

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New Delhi: Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s staunch critics would second him when he, during his whirlwind election rallies, aptly emphasizes that development ought to be the way forward for India and Hindus and Muslims, instead of fighting each other, should wage a war against poverty.

‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas (development for all)’ is the motto of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Well, who doesn’t want development?

But, alas, there seems to be a dichotomy between the thoughts and actions of the ruling party and the Prime Minister. For, while PM Modi talks of ‘vikas’ in Bihar to woo potential and existing voters, the BJP seeks to polarize the society along the lines of religion by placing full-page advertisements in leading newspapers featuring a girl hugging a cow and lashing out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on his “silence” over statements made by his allies on beef just on the eve of the final phase of Bihar assembly polls.

This apparent attempt to polarize Bihar by the leading party to score political points over the Grand Alliance in an election that is being seen as a verdict on PM Modi’s 17 months in power reeks of nothing but the desperation to win the polls, by hook or by crook.

Beef has always been a sensitive issue for India’s Hindus and Jains because the Holy cow is revered as ‘mother’. But what is condemnable is to seek votes in its name by pitting one community against another, thus sowing the seeds of hatred among people who, more or less, have same issues.

I am a non-vegetarian Hindu and I have never had beef in my life nor do I intend to have it in the future. But that’s my choice. At the same time, it will be sheer hypocrisy on my part if I, despite being a non-vegetarian, condemned someone for having beef. What others eat and believe should be none of my concern in a democratic country like India.

But beef is no more about the religious aspect of the populace; rather it has quietly, with intended negativity, wandered into the cheap political theatrics.

Doesn’t polarization help when it comes to polls? Oh yes, it does. It surely does, in every single election. Can anyone deny that there was polarization in Gujarat following 2002 riots? Can anyone dispute the fact that incidents like Muzaffarnagar riots polarized people in Uttar Pradesh before Lok Sabha polls?

Bihar has a literacy rate of 63.82% and has long been considered among the ‘bimaru’ states. Verily, there is no dearth of issues that people of Bihar face be it unemployment, poverty, ignorance, lack of good roads, schools, and hospitals. And it was expected that just one day prior to the day of voting, the leading parties in the fray would talk about the real issues. But, it is a pity that the ruling party, rather than talking of the ways to deal with the abovementioned problems chose to spread hatred in the name of Holy cow and thus indulged in the politics of polarization.

Is this a ploy to influence an uneducated person’s uncultivated mind? An educated youth of Bihar, I am convinced is mature enough to make his choice but what of the former. Arousing his passions and love for the religion could just do the trick.

In the words of Karl Marx,

“Religion is the opium of the masses.”

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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.