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Bihar Set to Witness Rallies of Nitish-Tejashwi and Amit Shah on Feb 25

It is likely to raise political heat in the state as the rallies are being seen as the kick-start to their respective campaigns.

Image for representational purpose. Credit: The Indian Express

Patna: With an eye on the next general elections in 2024, the ruling Mahagathbandhan and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party are set to display a show of strength in Bihar on February 25 by holding their separate rallies. It is likely to raise political heat in the state as the rallies are being seen as the kick-start to their respective campaigns.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is de facto chief of Janata Dal (United), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav will address the Mahagathbandhan’s joint rally at Purnea in Seemanchal, a Muslim-dominated backward region of Bihar. On the other hand, senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will address the party rally at Valmiki Nagar in West Champaran district.

Mahagathbandhan’s rally assumes much significance as Kumar and Tejashwi last week called for strong and united opposition to defeat the BJP and oust the Narendra Modi-led central government in the next Lok Sabha election. Both of them urged the Congress top leadership to take an initiative soon in this direction.

This will be the first joint rally of Mahagathbandhan in the state after Kumar dumped the BJP and joined hands with Mahagathbandhan and formed the new government in the state in August last year. Shah will address the second rally in the state after BJP was ousted from power last year as he had addressed the first rally in Araria.

Mahagathbandhan has chosen Purnea for its rally as a part of its strategy to challenge BJP’s bid to polarise the poverty-stricken people by playing its Hindutva politics and target the Mahagathbandhan (RJD, JD-U, Congress and Left parties) government led by Kumar. Besides, Mahagathbandhan aims to counter the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s brand of politics in Seemanchal. AIMIM is gaining ground in the region, which may be harmful to Mahagathbandhan and beneficial for the BJP.

“We will not allow BJP this time to polarise people in the name of religion. Mahagathbandhan’s focus is to raise different basic issues including unemployment, education, and health and to inform people about the neglect of Bihar by the BJP-led central government that was reflected in the union budget,” said state JD-U president Umesh Kushwaha, speaking to NewsClick.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kishanganj in Seemanchal was the only parliamentary seat in Bihar that was won by the Congress in the then-opposition Mahagathbandhan, saving it from drawing a blank. The BJP-led NDA won 39 of 40 seats including Purnea, Katihar and Araria in Seemanchal.

Kishanganj, widely seen as a stronghold of Congress, has always backed the party; the BJP has won the seat only once when its candidate Shahnawaz Hussain was elected in 1999.

Senior RJD leader Shakti Yadav told NewsClick that this rally will give a political message that Mahagathbandhan is united in the state, and it will defeat BJP in the next elections in the state.

A senior Congress leader said we understand BJP’s old game of polarisation. The saffron party has been voicing controversial issues like alleged infiltration by Bangladeshi and Rohangiyas in Seemanchal, cow slaughter, increasing population of Muslims and decreasing population of Hindus. These claims are reportedly being spread to create fear, target Muslims, and polarise Hindus.

However, BJP leaders are upbeat about Shah’s visit to the state. “Amit Shah is our party master strategist and has specifically chosen Champaran to launch a campaign against Mahagathbandhan. We are sure Shah’s rally will give fresh impetus to party leaders, workers, and supporters,” said BJP leader Samrat Choudhary.

According to reports in local Hindi dailies, several teams of BJP leaders and workers have been working on the ground in Champaran to make Shah’s visit a big success.

Union Minister Nityanand Rai, state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal and nearly dozens of MPs, MLAs and former ministers have been camping in Champaran for Shah’s rally.

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