Why Modi visited Bihar twice in last two days

Why Modi visited Bihar twice in last two days

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during an election campaign rally ahead of the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls, at Paliganj in Patna, Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (PTI Photo)

There is no such precedence in the electoral history of Bihar where a Prime Minister has visited this State twice in the last 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. 

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Modi’s two successive visits in the last two days is an outcome of BJP’s realisation that it is not going to give a repeat 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 NDA scored 32 out of 40 (Nitish was with the BJP then).

Caste calculus

No matter, how much top BJP leaders may claim that the party is coming back to power with a thumping majority, deep within it knows that polling in Bihar in the last few phases have tilted the balance in favour of Mahagatbandhan. The numerically-strong Muslims and Yadavs, who constitute around 17 and 12 per cent of the population respectively, have stood by Mahagatbandhan like a rock. This alliance got further boost when mahadalits and Mallahs (boatmen and fishermen), by and large, voted for Mahagatbandhan throughout Bihar.

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 to fall upon which 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 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. And incidentally, all these eight constituencies were won by the NDA during 2014 polls. And most importantly, out of these eight constituencies, there are four Union Ministers in the fray: Ashwini Choubey, RK 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.”