Why did Modi visit Bihar twice in two days?

Why did Modi visit Bihar twice in two days?

Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

There is no precedence in the electoral history of Bihar where a prime minister has visited the state twice within two days.

But Narendra Modi did so. On Wednesday, he campaigned for Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav at Paliganj. Yadav is contesting from Pataliputra Lok Sabha constituency and is locked in a keen tussle with Lalu Prasad’s eldest daughter Misa Bharti.

This was Modi’s second Bihar visit in the last 48 hours as he had already campaigned for another Union Minister Ashwini Choubey at Buxar on Tuesday. 

Modi’s two successive visits in the last two days are an outcome of the BJP’s realisation that the party is neither going to repeat the performance of 2014 where the BJP-led NDA wrested 31 seats out of 40 LS constituencies, nor will it outdo its own record performance of 2009 when the NDA scored 32 out of 40 (Nitish was with the BJP then).

Caste calculus

Though the top BJP leaders claim that the party is coming back to power with a thumping majority, deep within they know that polling in Bihar in the last few phases has tilted the balance in favour of Mahagathbandhan.

The numerically-strong combination of Muslims and Yadavs, who constitute around 17 and 12% of the population respectively, have stood by the Mahagathbandhan like a rock. 

Mahadalits and Mallahs, by and large, seem to have sided with the Mahagathbandhan throughout Bihar in this election, which is a boost to the alliance.

The caste combination, stitched assiduously by RJD chief Lalu Prasad, started showing its prowess after some initial hiccups in the first two phases. Largely dependent on Modi and Nitish’s charisma, the BJP had upper caste voters to fall back on. However, they have been outnumbered by the OBCs, EBCs (extremely backward castes), Mahadalits and Muslims.

Modi magic

It was against this backdrop that the BJP roped in its best crowd-puller campaigner, Modi to turn the tide. And it has reasons to do so.

The last of phase of elections on May 19 will witness polling in eight LS constituencies in Bihar. Incidentally, all the eight constituencies were won by the NDA during the 2014 polls. Most importantly, there are four Union ministers in the fray in this phase: Ashwini Choubey, R K Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Kripal Yadav.

Little wonder Modi ended his speech at Paliganj on Wednesday with an emotional appeal: “Today is my last election tour to Bihar (for 2019 poll). But I will keep coming here again as PM. Thank you all for your support.”