Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed six election rallies and is scheduled to address six more next week in poll-bound Bihar.
Keeping with its past strategy, the Prime Minister is the topmost leader among 30 star campaigners of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar where it is contesting elections in alliance with other NDA partners, including Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United).
What remains to be seen is whether Modi’s election rallies will have an impact on poll results or not?
In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, the Prime Minister addressed 31 rallies in the state, but the BJP could win only 53 of the 157 seats it contested. This time, however, the saffron party is contesting elections along with JD-(U), which was part of the Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Alliance in the 2015 election.
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A Moneycontrol analysis of the 12 districts chosen for PM rallies shows that the BJP and the JD-U combined, in 2015 , won half of the 110 assembly seats, falling in these districts.
The first rally addressed by the PM on October 23 was in Sasaram in Rohtas district. In 2015 elections, the JD-U had won two of the seven seats in the district. In Bhagalpur district too, the JD-U bagged three of the seven assembly segments in 2015.
In Muzaffarpur district, considered an RJD bastion, where PM Modi addressed a rally on October 28, the BJP had won three of the eleven seats in the last assembly elections. In West Champaran, where the PM is scheduled to address a rally on November 3, the BJP won five and JDU one out of nine seats in the last assembly elections.
In 2015, the Mahagathbandhan comprising the JD-U, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress had secured two-third majority by winning 178 seats in the 243-member Bihar assembly paving way for Nitish Kumar to be the chief minister. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comprising the BJP, the LJP, the RLSP and the HAM could win just 58 seats. Two years later, Nitish, however, switched sides and formed a new government with the BJP.
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While the BJP could win 33 per cent of the seats it contested, the party won 45 percent of the assembly seats where the PM addressed rallies in 2015. This time, however, the party is expecting an advantage of the JD-U being an alliance partner. The RJD was the single largest party with 80 seats in 2015, the JD-U finished a close second with 71 seats.
“PM rallies serve two purposes at the same time. They are not targeted at just the seats around the venue only but also beyond. Look at October 28, Modi addressed rallies in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Patna while elections were being held at 71 seats in the first phase,” said DM Diwakar, social scientist and former director of the Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.
Like in earlier elections, the BJP has adopted the strategy of slotting PM’s rallies for the next phase of election on the day of polling for the previous phase for maximum reach. Of the four dates of PM rallies—October 23, 28, November 1 and 3, two dates, October 28 and November 3, are polling days in the state.
“BJP relies on PM Modi. In the last elections, he was used prominently because BJP had no CM face. This time, he is addressing only 12 rallies because BJP (NDA) has a CM face in Nitish Kumar and also due to the pandemic which has reduced election to just three phases,” NK Choudhary,political analyst and former faculty at Patna University told Moneycontrol.
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