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Bihar opposition sees ploy in BJP’s talk of polls

Bihar’s opposition parties are unwilling to take at face value the BJP leadership’s claims of starting ‘early preparations’ for assembly elections.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 04.26 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: Bihar’s opposition parties are unwilling to take at face value the BJP leadership’s claims of starting ‘early preparations’ for assembly elections. They suspect BJP is indulging in a deceptive plot to mount pressure on ally, chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JDU, to yield more electoral space or risk losing charge of the state as the polls due in October-November can be postponed in the name of the pandemic and the state put under President’s rule.

RJD and Congress leaders feel BJP’s positioning has come even before the EC (and the Centre) could start assessing from June (six months before the expiry of the assembly’s term) whether polls can be held on time — in which case the election process has to begin in August-September — or whether they require deferment due to Covid-19.

The opposition calculates that Kumar and JDU would definitely want elections on time, during his tenure as CM, but BJP may bargain for more seats if polls are to be held on time or it can glow in the glory of President’s rule, if polls are deferred and the Centre takes direct charge of Bihar.

In the opposition’s view ‘the real story’ of Covid-19 in Bihar has only begun with the return of lakhs of migrant workers, adding social, economic and political tension in society. It sees BJP leader Sushil Kumar’s comment that Bihar will have to hold ‘digital elections’ as a deft way of advertising that the situation is not conducive for normal elections. “Covid-19 scene in Bihar is grim and the state government has left the people to languish. Led by Tejashwi Yadavji, our party leaders and legislators have been holding videoconferences to assess the situation and provide relief for the people. The crisis is such that the issue of holding elections has not even crossed our minds. Yet, Sushil Modiji talks about digital elections in Bihar, knowing well nowhere in the world has a major election been held digitally. Further, Bihar has very poor digital connectivity. So, Modiji is clearly making fun and BJP is playing games,” said RJD MP Manoj Jha.

AICC Bihar incharge Shaktisinh Gohil said “going by the situation, nobody can think of anything other than fighting Covid-19 at least for the next 4-5 months. BJP is trying to insulate itself and PM Modi from the messy handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Bihar and trying to pass the blame on Nitish Kumar. We will see more of Bihar’s enterprising and creative politics in the coming months.”

The BJP leadership’s move to bank on PM Modi’s image and the Centre’s achievements coincides with the assessment that the PM still enjoys a higher degree of popularity and the deepening bitterness between Kumar and RJD’s first family makes it tough for Kumar to attempt another pole vault, though the Opposition alliance lacks a rallying leader and killer instinct in the highly polarised state.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)
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