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Narendra Modi cancels 3 rallies in Bihar. Is the BJP nervous?

Panini Anand | Updated on: 16 October 2015, 15:01 IST
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The anxiety

  • PM Narendra Modi\'s 3 rallies in Bihar are said to have been cancelled
  • Apparently, BJP is worried that the wind is blowing in favour of Grand Alliance

The reasons

  • Modi is BJP\'s only face in Bihar. A defeat would be a personal embarrassment
  • There is infighting in BJP. Many state leaders resent Amit Shah\'s micro-management

More in the story

  • How did Mohan Bhagwat harm BJP\'s chances?
  • What does the buoyant Grand Alliance have to say about BJP\'s woes?

The BJP went into the Bihar elections with complete confidence that Narendra Modi's popularity will catapult it to power. But after the first phase of polling, the party, including the Prime Minister, is worried.

According to sources, PM Modi was supposed to address 3 rallies on 16 October, when some parts of the state would be voting for the second phase. These rallies have now been cancelled. Apparently, the reason is the BJP leadership's lack of confidence.

The BJP claims that these rallies weren't scheduled in the first place. But the JD(U) believes that Modi has developed cold feet as he has understood that the wind is blowing against the BJP.

"Modi has cancelled not three but six rallies. They are losing confidence. Most of his rallies are ineffective. There is infighting in the BJP," JD(U) leader KC Tyagi told Catch.

The election had boiled down to a Modi versus Grand Alliance battle

In the absence of a chief ministerial candidate, the BJP campaign in Bihar is essentially based on two faces - Modi and Amit Shah. Not only do they dominate all the publicity material, even the campaign itself is largely controlled by the BJP president. The state leadership doesn't have much of a say. This has created some resentment on the ground. There are reports of infighting and clashes between BJP supporters during rallies and road shows.

The Grand Alliance's CM candidate Nitish Kumar has made this an issue, terming the election as a battle between Bihari and Bahari (outsiders).

Saving Modi from embarrassment

After a series of Parivartan rallies before the announcement of elections in the state, Modi was supposed to address as many as 22 rallies during the election campaign. It was further increased to 40 as it was felt that the party needed a proper push in all 5 phases. As there was absence of a wave in the NDA's favour or against Nitish, it was felt that only the Modi factor can ensure its victory.

So far, Modi has been extremely aggressive in attacking the Grand Alliance. He even addressed a rally on the day of the first phase of polling, despite objections from the Grand Alliance.

What worsens matters for the BJP is the comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on the reservation policy

The election had boiled down to a Modi versus Grand Alliance battle. A victory for the Nitish-led coalition would be a huge embarrassment for the PM, something that the BJP just cannot afford.

Not one to spare an opportunity to hit out at Modi, Lalu Prasad tweeted, "Modi is the face of the BJP in Bihar, campaigning with his entire ministry & machinery for the last 3 months. Will he resign as PM after the defeat?"

Bhagwat plays spoiler

What worsened matters for the BJP is the comment by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that the reservation policy needs to be reviewed. Even though the BJP distanced itself from the remark, the damage has already been done. It enabled Grand Alliance chieftains Nitish and Lalu Prasad to present the BJP as "anti-backward caste".

Bhagwat exacerbated the damage by repeating his comment. During his four-day retreat in Gorakhpur, he said, "The reservation policy has been in force for more than six decades and the time has come to review its benefits are actually reaching those whom it was intended for".

The increasing confidence of the Grand Alliance leaders and the cancellation of Modi's rallies haven't gone unnoticed among Bihar's public, which is known to be politically aware.

What is clear is that Modi's machinery isn't as invincible as it earlier seemed.

First published: 16 October 2015, 15:01 IST
 
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.

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