Bihar's Ruling Mahagathbandhan Begins Preparations to Defeat BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha Polls
The leaders from Opposition parties during a joint press conference after their meeting, in Patna, on June 23. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Patna: Bihar's ruling Mahagathbandhan coalition, which is part of the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), has commenced preparations for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Mahagathbandhan, which is currently robust, united, and optimistic, hopes to reverse its defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In anticipation of next year's elections, two major allies of the Mahagathbandhan, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal (United) (JD-U), have shifted into election mode. RJD leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav held closed-door meetings with his grassroots party leaders on September 10 and 11.
Meanwhile, CM Nitish Kumar held a meeting with JD-U leaders on Monday and will have another meeting on Tuesday. Kumar reportedly interacted with the leaders to get feedback from the ground.
Both Tejashwi Yadav and Kumar cautioned their party leaders to be ready for Lok Sabha elections, which may take place earlier than scheduled.
As RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, are engaged in visiting various temples in the state and neighbouring Jharkhand to seek divine blessings for their health and family well-being, their younger son, Yadav, sensing the upcoming political challenge of the Lok Sabha polls, has called on party leaders and workers to connect with the people and strengthen the grassroots network. He emphasised that the elections are approaching rapidly and could potentially take place earlier than expected.
Yadav stressed that the opposition alliance, known as INDIA, has the sole objective of defeating the BJP. During his interaction with hundreds of RJD leaders, including MLAs, MLCs, party candidates from the previous state Assembly polls, district presidents, Mahanagar presidents, and district general secretaries, Yadav emphasised the importance of the party workers, stating that they are the backbone of the party and should not be disregarded. He urged leaders to show respect for the workers and their sentiments.
A senior RJD leader who attended the meeting revealed that the primary focus of the gathering was on grassroots election preparations to secure more parliamentary seats and defeat the BJP in the state, thereby enhancing the party's national image. Yadav encouraged party leaders to work diligently alongside party workers to achieve the best possible results.
In the previous Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-led NDA secured 39 out of 40 parliamentary seats, with the Congress winning only one seat and the RJD failing to secure any seats, marking a significant setback for the party.
Political observers in Bihar believe that Yadav's political future hinges on his ability to prevent the BJP from replicating its 2019 success.
Another RJD leader stated that Yadav had tasked leaders with forming 15-member booth committees at each polling booth across the state to ensure the party's strong performance. He emphasised the need to strengthen the party at the grassroots level and various party units, encouraging leaders to spend time with local residents, listen to their concerns, and bring the welfare and development schemes of the Mahagathbandhan government directly to the people.
Yadav is expected to hold another meeting with party leaders in the near future.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Kumar is meeting with party leaders, including district presidents and block presidents, to gather feedback and provide them with guidance for the upcoming elections.
Over the course of two days, he is interacting with a total of 850 leaders. On the first day, September 11, he met with leaders from 51 party organisations, district presidents, and subdivision in-charges. On the second day, September 12, he will meet with 534 block presidents from all 243 assembly seats in the state. Previously, Kumar held one-on-one meetings with party MLAs and MLCs.
JD-U, Kumar's party, contested the last Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the BJP and won 16 seats. JD-U will likely contest the next elections alongside RJD and other Mahagathbandhan allies.
The JD-U and RJD are key allies within the ruling Mahagathbandhan, which also includes the Congress and three Left parties: CPI(ML), CPI(M), and CPI. This alliance wields significant political influence in Bihar compared to the BJP-led NDA. Recently, three small regional parties also joined the Mahagathbandhan.
Both the Congress and the Left parties have also begun preparations for the upcoming elections.
Since August of the previous year, when Kumar broke ties with the BJP, formed the Mahagathbandhan, and assumed power, he has consistently called on all opposition parties to unite for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections with the aim of defeating the BJP.
Leadership within the BJP, including Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, is reportedly concerned about the upcoming elections in Bihar. Until just two months ago, the BJP had only one ally, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Union Minister Pasupati Kumar Paras, which has no MLAs in the Assembly and is considered a weak political force.
In recent months, the BJP has made efforts to form alliances with four or five small parties, including the LJP (Lok Janshakti Party) led by Chirag Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha's RLJP (Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party), Mukesh Sahni's VIP (Vikassheel Insaan Party), and Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha).
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, JD-U and BJP had contested an equal number of parliamentary seats (each of them contested 17 seats). The LJP of then Union minister Ramvilas Paswan had contested six seats and won 5. JD-U won 16 of the 17 seats it contested as an ally of the BJP, unlike in 2014, when it had won only 2 of the 30 seats it contested in Bihar by itself.
On the other hand, the Congress, a constituent ally of the then Mahagathbandan, won only one seat, and the other ally, RJD, failed to win any seat.
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