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As You Dislike It: A New Drama in the Theatre Of Absurd in Bihar

Initially, the BJP top brass in Bihar tried to put up a brave face by claiming that it was a dirty work of the opposition parties and the anger is just a one-time affair. But when other speeches also started getting similar treatment, the party leaders went into shell

Soroor Ahmed

Soroor Ahmed

Soroor Ahmed | Patna

The sudden and huge surge in ‘Dislikes’ for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speeches and a large number of negative comments on them has made the Bharatiya Janata Party’s top echelon sit up and ponder as to what and where things have gone wrong ahead of the crucial Bihar Assembly elections.

The phenomenon which started with the August 30  “Mann Ki Baat” has started creating panic in the rank and file of the battleground state of Bihar as the saffron party, till now, has strongly been relying on the I-T savvy youths, not only in the state but across the country.

Initially, the BJP top brass in Bihar tried to put up a brave face by claiming that it was a dirty work of the opposition parties and the anger is just a one-time affair. But when other speeches also started getting similar treatment and that, too, on the official YouTube channel of the BJP, the party leaders went into shell.

They have reason to feel let down as they never expected such a reaction of the netizens against the PM’s speeches. They have been used to such a large number of negative comments on social media platforms against the state BJP leader and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi and even chief minister Nitish Kumar, who actually belongs to the Janata Dal United.

Not only the National Democratic Alliance leaders, even the journalists — especially arm-chaired ones in the era of coronavirus — who have been giving clear edge to the Nitish Kumar-led combination, are finding it difficult to assess the mood of the voters.

True, it is difficult to figure out as to how many 1.2 million ‘Dislikes’ of Mann Ki Baat–against only 4.43 lakh ‘Likes’– (on YouTube channel of the BJP) are from Bihar alone. Yet, it is a fact that the anger is palpable in this state, too. After Mann Ki Baat, the Prime Minister had addressed a couple of other functions, too, like one of IPS (Probationers). Yet, the reaction was more or less the same.

With the passing of each day, youths in Bihar are turning more and more hostile towards the ruling establishment. They are not just students, but even the four-million-strong migrant workforce.

It is a well-established fact that no state government had responded so badly in rescuing and bringing back migrant workforce and students from other places, especially Kota. They were stopped at the border of the state, harassed and mistreated by the police in the immediate post-lockdown days.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar remained inside his bungalow for 90-odd days and did not interact at all with anyone. He left everything in the hands of the bureaucrats and top police officers. It was rumoured in those heydays of lockdown that actually the state director-general of police Gupteshwar Pandey is the chief minister as he has repeatedly been issuing instructions on YouTube channel.

As if the ‘Dislike’ of PM’s speech is not enough came a big dislike from none else but an NDA constituent, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). On September 4, the LJP issued a full-page front-page advertisement in several newspapers of Bihar openly criticising the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government. The advertisement even targeted the BJP’s brand of politics.

This latest development came only after the recent announcement of the LJP that it would be putting up its own candidates in at least 119 out of 243 seats in Bihar. All these candidates would be fielded against the Janata Dal United nominees and not against the BJP.

The LJP may not be strong enough to win many seats but has the potential to damage the prospect of Janata Dal United candidates as it relies heavily on the Dussadh or Paswan votebank. Dussadhs belong to the socially, educationally and economically strongest Dalit sub-caste. It is the only sub-caste left out of the Mahadalit category created by the Nitish Kumar government. They are in all 22 sub-castes in Scheduled Castes in Bihar.

In the 2005 Assembly elections, the dissociation of the LJP from the RJD played a significant role in the defeat of the latter. This was the scenario even when both the RJD and the LJP, along with the Congress, were part of the UPA-I government.

However, more than the LJP’s rebellion, it is the total indifference, if not real dislike, among the hard-core support base of the BJP which is the cause of worry for the saffron brigade.

The rank and file are still waiting for any virtual rally by the PM though before the announcement of dates by the Election Commission for the 2015 Assembly polls, Narendra Modi addressed at least four official functions. He had then addressed 30-odd election rallies in the state.

The latest trend of ‘Dislikes’ may dissuade the BJP from organising a much larger number of rallies of Modi this time. The spirit is certainly not very high this time.

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