Bihar Election 2020: Big Test Awaits BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda
The Bihar elections are a chance for Nadda to improve his electoral track record as BJP chief.
As part of ‘Mission Bihar’, ahead of the elections in the state, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Jagat Prakash (JP) Nadda has reached the battleground. Bihar is where Nadda was born, the place that honed him as a student leader before he stepped into active politics.
However, this is his first Bihar expedition during an election. It is believed that this visit is crucial to seat distribution among the parties that the BJP has allied with. While this election is about pride and self-respect for the likes of the BJP, JD(U), RJD and LJP, for Nadda, it is a test that he must pass with flying colours.
In January 2020, Nadda donned the top hat for the BJP and this is his second election since. The first, the Delhi elections earlier this year, saw the BJP suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party. The Bihar elections are being seen as Nadda's chance to redeem himself after that loss.
JP Nadda: Ready For Battle
Nadda seems to be preparing mighty hard for this tough examination. Keeping the elections in mind, the party president recently conducted a virtual meeting with workers in Bihar, delineating the ways in which they could get their message across to the public.
In the meeting, he said that Bihari crafts such as Madhubani paintings should be promoted and other local Bihari products like Bhagalpuri silk and litchees of Muzaffarpur should be encouraged under the ‘vocal for local’ campaign. The two-day trip is also expected to motivate state-level workers.
The Challenges in Bihar Before Nadda
Even though the election is just around the corner, there does not seem to be a seat-sharing arrangement that has been worked out within the NDA.
It is heard that on this trip, Nadda will be meeting JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to discuss the tussle for seats currently plaguing the NDA in Bihar.
He’s already announced earlier, though, that the NDA will fight this election under Nitish. However, the LJP president Chirag Paswan has been told by his party to field 143 candidates, leaving aside the seats allotted to the BJP.
In such a scenario, Nadda has to reconcile a youth leader like Paswan, while also dealing with a veteran like Nitish.
Focus on Issues of Governance
Seat-sharing is just one of the dilemmas facing Nadda. There seems to be a clear anti-incumbency sentiment amongst the people of Bihar. Issues of unemployment, floods, healthcare during the pandemic, and the migration of lakhs of Bihari workers during the lockdown are top of mind. If the narrative doesn't change, these could prove detrimental for the BJP.
On social media too, the youth of Bihar has been trending hashtags like #Bihar_Sarkaar_Rozgaar_Do. For the last 15 years, except for 20 months in between, Bihar has had a JD(U)-BJP government.
Issues like unemployment and a failing healthcare system are, therefore, expected to be milked by the Opposition. Controlling the narrative on these issues is thus a massive challenge before Nadda.
In 2015 state election, the JD(U), under Nitish, had sidelined the BJP and allied with RJD and Congress. At the time, the BJP, LJP, RLSP, and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s HAM were in opposition. The BJP faced defeat them, but times have changed now, as has the equation between the JD(U) and the BJP.
Nadda's Track Record
For Nadda, his presidentship has been a crown of thorns. Before being appointed full-time president, Nadda was the BJP's working president. At the time, the BJP, which was in power in the state, lost the Jharkhand state elections to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and RJD combine.
Apart from that, the party’s long-standing coalition with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra also came to and end during this time, with the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena’s Maha Vikas Aghadi coming to power in the state.
In Haryana, too, BJP's Khattar government had to fight hard to make a comeback, and finally managed to win power after an alliance with Chautala of the JJP.
His record makes it clear that with the Bihar elections, Nadda is looking to improve his numbers and prove himself as an able choice for the party's top post.
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