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In Bihar, BJP’s surveys indicate tough fight

It has been reiterated many times by top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda, that “NDA will win the upcoming Bihar elections with two-third majority and form the next government, the Chief Minister of which will be Nitish Kumar irrespective of the number of seats his party wins”.

However, despite being publically ticked off and assertions of ‘gathbandhan ka dharma’ with Nitish Kumar, LJP president Chirag Paswan is carrying on with his “anti-Nitish Kumar and pro-BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi” strategy leading to speculations about “the real game” in Bihar.

Sources say internal surveys of the BJP have indicated a tough match in Bihar. Meanwhile, political observers claim the BJP is also apprehensive about the possibility of a “post-poll anti-climax” featuring Nitish Kumar. This is believed to be one of the main reasons why the leadership are ticking-off Chirag publicly, working hard to put at rest speculations about his party, the LJP, being its ‘Plan B’. Chirag has been strategically criticising Nitish Kumar, praising the Prime Minister and supporting the idea of a BJP Chief Minister, thereby earning the title of BJP’s ‘Plan B’ to “wipe out Nitish Kumar and the JD-U in Bihar”.

Notably, many top BJP leaders, suspended now, are contesting on the LJP ticket. While they may have been suspended by the BJP for contesting against NDA candidates, the observers say “there are no prizes for guessing which side they will go in case of a hung Assembly”. While NDA rivals are using Chirag’s utterances against the incumbent CM to their advantage, the BJP camp is also worried about upsetting the EBC vote bank of Nitish Kumar.

Sources say party’s internal surveys suggest that Nitish Kumar’s stock is at an all-time low. While the surveys indicate a tight contest in several Assembly segments, the BJP is apprehensive about a scenario where Nitish Kumar manages to get enough seats to cross over to the RJD-led ‘mahagathbandhan’ and help it form the government. This is the main reason for a very public admonishment for Chirag.

BJP general secretary Bhupinder Yadav yesterday asked Chirag that while he praised the functioning of the Bihar government till as recently as February 2020, what led to a change in stance in the past few months.