By Arun Srivastava
After performing the Ashwamedh Agyna in Hyderabad only a month back, Narendra Modi and his lieutenant Amit Shah let their saffron horse to travel across the southern India to conquer the region, the duo has revived their old programme of “Look Northeast” by holding the national meet on July 30 and 31 of all its frontal organisations and morchas working across the country in Patna.
The desperation to expand the party base, just ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election is clearly manifest in its holding the joint national executive of all the front organisations. Sanjay Paswan, Bihar BJP president in fact boasted “For the first time a joint national executive has been planned by the party and it is taking place in Patna. It will be an opportunity for Bihar BJP workers and leaders to get exposure to the national and state level leaders from all parts of the country,”
Though the BP is in power for eight years, the party has not succeeded in making a substantial visible impact on the states of eastern India. It is quite interesting to note that though Bihar is part of the Hindi heartland, Modi and Shah have clubbed the state with Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. Incidentally most of these states are faced with the element of political instability. Ever since the BJP leaders threw Uddhav Thackeray government out of power, it was in the air that Jharkhand and Bihar were the next target of Amit Shah.
It is argued by the BJP functionaries that the primary aim of the two day meet which would be inaugurated by national president J P Nadda, is to prepare the rank and file about the role of Morchas in upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024. As BJP is focusing on adding dalit, minority and tribal vote bank, the meeting will discuss the outreach program to these communities by the SC, ST and minority morcha. Apart from that it will also discuss the participation and strengthening of the BJP Yuva and OBC Morcha. There are seven frontal organisations of the BJP across the country — Kisan Morcha, Mahila Morcha, SC Morcha, Yuva Morcha, ST Morcha, OBC Morcha and Minority Morcha.
Though Modi has been clamouring for creating a Congress Mukta Bharat, the latest two day meet apparently also makes it clear that they are on the mission to demolish the regional parties. If in Bihar, the RJD of Lalu Prasad and JD(U) of Nitish are at their target, In Odisha it is BJD, in Bengal it is TMC and in Jharkhand it is the regional outfit JMM. While the BJP under Modi has made its presence felt in Hindi heartland and western states, it has not succeeded in having additional impact on the people of these four states.
These four states have become crucial for the survival of Modi regime as the party is believed to be losing some of its ground in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the next Lok Sabha poll. Notwithstanding the party won the state assembly in UP only this year, the national leadership of BJP is not comfortable with its performance. Even insiders confess that if Modi had not intervened at the eleventh hour, the result would have gone in favour of Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav.
The BJP leaders nurse the hope that the next Lok Sabha election in 2024 can see it break new ground in the eastern India region. Alleged involvement of the most competent minister Partha Chatterjee, the closest aide of Mamata and his subsequent arrest along with his lady friend, has given rise to many types of speculations and rumours in the political circle. Partha is known for his high order of political acumen. It is said, how could this person commit such a blunder of keeping Rs 50 crores in her house. He had many other alternatives. In fact only on July 28 Partha told newsmen that he has been framed and he had become victim of a conspiracy.
BJP is aware that the arrest of Partha and smearing his political career would severely affect Mamata. With Partha out of the policy making circle, Mamata would have to depend on her nephew. With this the political scenario would turn more vulnerable. Her nephew is already in the midst of controversies. His wife has already been interrogated in an alleged coal scam.
In this situation while the CPI(M) has pushed up its political actions, the BJP is desperately trying to fill the vacuum. The Patna meet will deliberate on this issue too. The BJP top brass is quite worried of the Bengal scene, where it does not have much following. However the state leaders assert that the latest incident has got wide condemnation from the people by both CBI and ED.
Conditions for the BJP, its leaders believe, are more ripe than ever in the entire eastern region. However RJD sources blame Nitish Kumar for creation of this situation. They say that Nitish knew of designs of Amit Shah enjoying support of the RSS. But he ignored the threat perception. If he had joined hands with RJD and installed a new non-BJP government in Bihar, the present situation would not have arrived.
The BJP is contemplating to win as much of the 39Lok Sabha seats on its own. The BJP leadership is raring to reduce the political stature of Nitish, eventually showing the door. Like Mamata who has built around ethnic sub-nationalism which was used to quell the saffron challenge in the 2021 assembly polls, Nitish or even Tejashvi do not have such advantage. They have been heavily dependent on the caste politics and support which is quite fragile. The neo rich of the OBC are more inclined towards BJP. They find it representing their class interest in a more effective and meaningful manner. The primary reason for BJP’s inability to turn its fortunes around in these states, and the party having not learnt its lessons has been the absence of strong and charismatic state leaders.
The states in eastern India appear to have more promising prospect for the party’s electoral rise as the growth in its vote base and seat share in the last parliamentary elections was considerably high. In Bengal it has 72 Legislators out of 294 despite receiving getting severe drubbing from Mamata. The CPI(M) with zero seat is a marginal force in Bengal and BJP hopes to cash in on the anti-TMC sentiment after Partha episode. The party ruled Jharkhand but now it has JMM in power. The BJP registered partial success as the party put up its best ever show by winning 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in 2019. It also won eight of the 21 seats in Odisha, a state where it had declined considerably after the ruling BJD snapped ties with the party.
The BJP has systematically tried to build political inroads into the seven states in Northeastern and eastern India in 2019 and could not accomplish the mission. To provide impetus to BJP‘s preparation for 2024 elections, almost all the leaders from state to block level have been invited to two days convention. The delegates have been asked to visit across the state. Besides the central meet at Bapu Bhawan, these delegates will be deliberating at five other venues. The delegates have been made to visit 200 assembly seats out of 243 seats of the state. The BJP has left 43 seats which are currently represented by ally JD(U) in the assembly.
Around 500 leaders will visit assembly segments to meet the BJP mandal presidents. The party has kept 18 leaders in reserve and two leaders each were deployed in assembly seats. Apart from inaugurating the national executive, Nadda will also meet BJP ministers in Bihar government and then will attend the meeting of state BJP core committee during his two days stay in Patna. Amit Shah will attend the concluding session of the national executive on Sunday evening.
Ever since Nitish started showing his mavericks, Modi and Amit Shah have become alert. They perceive him as a potent threat notwithstanding giving a nice personal treatment. In April, BJP had celebrated freedom fighter Kunwar Singh’s Vijayotsava at Jagdishpur in Bhojpur district in a big way, an initiative seen as the party’s move towards promoting its politics of nationalism and Hindutva ahead of the 2024 polls. It is worth noticing that national executive meeting of BJP’s frontal organisations is being held in Bihar at a time when the ties between BJP and its main ally JD-U are quite strained. (IPA Service)