Bihar Election: Campaign Strategies of Desperation
The elections in Bihar are nearing their close. KC Tyagi, Member of Parliament, Janata Dal (United), speaks to Hardnews about the prospects of the Grand Alliance in the ongoing Bihar elections
Abeer Kapoor Delhi
How have the last three phases fared for the party, and what are your predictions for the upcoming phases?
We are optimistic as a party. If I am to give you my predictions in the first phase we are betting on about 35 seats, in the second 20 and above, and the third we are hopeful of about 30 and above. The fourth phase will be fought, neck and neck. The fifth phase is the one we are confident about as we are expecting three-fourths of the vote.
What do you see as factors driving this confidence?
The Nitish Kumar government has brought law and order to the state, it has worked towards improving the primary health conditions, it has not only brought education not only by building new schools but also by also giving cycles to school going girls, and uniforms which acts as an incentive to attend school. These schemes have been popular across castes and religious groups in the state. We have brought electricity to villages by increasing output. There is no leader in the BJP of the stature of Nitish Kumar; he is more popular than the PM Narendra Modi. They haven’t declared their chief ministerial candidate, and this raises the question of Nitish Kumar versus who? In Delhi Kiran Bedi was too small a leader and this could not woo the middle classes. Now they have to change strategies to woo whoever they can.
The election has devolved into a war of words, and mud slinging both alliances has poked holes in each other. Both have taken pot shots, and in many cases hit below the belt.
The BJP is desperate. They have accused us of being pro-Pakistan and being soft on terror. However, this NDA government at the Centre has seen the largest number of violations on the Indo-Pak border. The ISIS flags have unfurled in Kashmir during many protest marches. The PM claims he protects the country with his 56-inch chest when he has not fulfilled any of his promises. In other terms, the government has been identified as pro-corporate. The Land Acquisition Bill is an example of this.
There is growing unrest in the civil society space; there is too much anger over the growing intolerance. The speeches and comments made by leaders of the BJP such as VK Singh, Giriraj Singh, Sakshi Maharaj and others give us a glimpse into how the division is growing in the society. Business can only flourish if there is peace.
What happened at the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday?
There were inflammatory speeches given at rallies by both the Prime Minister and BJP President. PM Modi has been accused of playing the caste card to garner support, misleading the voters by false claims. Meanwhile, the Party President has tried to polarise the elections on communal grounds. We have lodged a complaint about this with the ECI, and they will take the necessary action.
Even if he claims to be a leader of the backward castes/classes what is wrong?
What has this government done for the Scheduled Castes? There are issues and atrocities every day, big stories of murder and rape of backward castes/classes. While the leaders, in the BJP, are not allowed to comment on these issues and raise their voices.
How can he claim to be a leader of the oppressed when his government doesn't even voice the concerns of those who are being subject to the violence. His silence is not the only one that is deafening, it is also of those who have stood as leaders of the Schedule Castes and kept their mouth shit.
What are your final predictions?
See we are the inheritors of the legacy of backward castes and class such as Karpoori Thakur, and we follow the path set by them. The two parties coming together has united the voice of the backward castes and classes. Now if the backward vote--which accounts for about 30-35 percent of the total vote--does not get split, we will safely win.