Union minister Amit Shah’s address at the virtual rally next week is expected to put to rest all speculation regarding the BJP’s alliance with Nitish Kumar and his position as its face for next year’s state election.
A section of the BJP feels Nitish Kumar has been drawing a lot of criticism because of his handling of the migrant labourers’ issue and that he could have a negative effect on the BJP’s prospects.
Insiders said some senior BJP leaders, however, feel that dumping the Chief Minister at this point might be a risk worth avoiding as he still enjoys popular support.
Nitish Kumar’s opponents within the BJP had also been vocal ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, unwilling to accept his demand of a 50-50 seat division.
But Amit Shah had not only agreed to an equal distribution, he had also made Mr Kumar the face of the party in the state. The strategy had paid off, with the alliance sweeping up all but one of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats.
After the election though, Mr Shah has not been so accommodating, turning down the Janata Dal United chief when he sought proportional representation of his party in terms of ministerial berths at the Centre.
Miffed, Nitish Kumar had refused to accept the single ministry berth offered to his party.
This time, his detractors within the BJP have pointed to Mr Kumar’s reluctance to accept the incoming migrant labourers and his government’s 1000-rupee aid to them, alleging that it is just a pittance.
Mr Kumar’s unwillingness to bring back students from Rajasthan’s Kota or elsewhere in the country has not gone down well with the voters, they have also said.
Regarding his stance, Mr Kumar had argued that the state does not have the capacity – in terms of medical infrastructure or the funds – to contain a huge spike in infection that was a possibility afer the influx of people from outside the state.
In meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he had demanded not only more test kits and PPE kits for the state’s doctors but also funds to deal with the state’s sliding economy.
Amit Shah is expected to set off the party’s campaign in Bihar next week with a “virtual rally”, where will address the people of the state through video conference and Facebook live.
The party has set a target of roping in “at least one lakh people across the 243 assembly segments in Bihar” for the video conference, state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
To counter the BJP digital rally, Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal has planned to organize a “Garib Adhikar Diwas” the same day. Announcing this in Patna, Lalu Yadav’s son and Leader of the opposition Tejaswi Yadav said a virtual rally just “mocks the poor, who have suffered the most during the lockdown”.