BJP hardsells Rs 1.25 lakh crore package to woo voters

BJP hardsells Rs 1.25 lakh crore package to woo voters

PATNA/BHAGALPUR: Brand Narendra Modi has been BJP’s chief selling point for all the assembly elections it has contested after its triumph in last year’s Lok Sabha elections. For the Bihar assembly elections, however, BJP has been using the successful ‘brand’ with a tagline — Ek Lakh 25 Hazar Crore Ka Bihar Package (Rs 1.25 lakh crore Bihar package) — in every poster, banner and hoarding.

There was never any doubt that the BJP will fight the assembly elections with Modi as its talisman, so much so that the party has literally become synonymous with Modi even in interiors of Bihar. So, his being the only face of BJP on hoardings will not surprise anyone, specifically when the party has so far not declared names of its candidates for all assembly seats. The ‘tagline’ at the top remains the same if you travel from capital Patna to any part of the state.

Though poll fever has not yet gripped the interiors, urban and semi-urban pockets have much to discuss about the Bihar package. Interestingly, chief minister Nitish Kumar has a counter slogan which says “Jhanse Mein Na Aayenge, Nitish Ko Jitayenge”.

Obviously, any discussion around the ‘tagline’-which originated from Modi’s promise at the BJP’s first poll rally in Muzaffarpur on July 25-has many takers. Ashok Singh of Bakhtiyarpur, who runs a grocery store, said, “Paisa aayega to vikas hoga (development will happen if money comes).” He held the Patna-Bakhtiyarpur four-lane highway as an example, saying connectivity is good for business, students and farmers.

Kumar, a 25-year-old Rajput, however, reflected the sentiments of upper castes who are, by and large, BJP supporters. If you ask them why they support BJP, they tell you about RJD’s ‘jungle raj’ and how they used to live in fear in those 15 years. They also say the JD(U)-RJD alliance is not right for the otherwise “good and honest” chief minister Nitish Kumar.

But the Bihar package hardsell does not seem to strike a chord with all. Arun Kumar of Shivnar village near Mokama, who runs an eatery, said, “Nitishji bhi vikas ke liye kaam karenge (Nitish will also work for development).” Kumar, from the Kahar caste (an OBC), said he had voted for Modi in the parliamentary election but would vote for Nitish this time. Asked about the reason, he said, “Modi is a strong man. He was needed in Delhi to run the country. But Nitish Kumar is good as a chief minister.”

Though it is difficult to say whether the development plank will blur the pull of caste, people in interior Bihar are still not clear whether the development will benefit them or only urban folk.

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