Patna: The BJP will sound the poll bugle in Bihar next week with a ‘virtual rally’ by Union minister and party’s senior leader Amit Shah who will address the people of the state through video conference and Facebook live, a senior party leader said here on Monday.
Sanjay Jaiswal, the state president of the BJP, said the party has set a target of roping in “at least one lakh people across the 243 assembly segments in Bihar” for the video conference, besides those who may prefer to listen to the speech on the social networking site.
“The virtual rally can be verily called the commencement of our digital campaign for assembly elections in Bihar. The June 9 rally by the Home Minister will be followed by similar public addresses from party president J P Nadda on a later date. Itinerary for the same will be made known in due course. Nadda is expected to address the people in two phases covering north and south Bihar,” he said.
Assembly elections are due later this year. The BJP has been sharing power with the JD(U) headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar since 2005, barring a four-year gap from 2013-17.
Notably, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, also a veteran BJP leader, had recently ruffled many feathers when he spoke of the possibility of digital campaigns and online voting replacing old-style massive rallies and the long queues outside polling booths, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Media reports, quoting Election Commission sources, claim the possibility of online voting in near future has been ruled out by the poll panel.
While large gatherings are prohibited under what is being termed as ‘Unlock 1.0’, it remains to be seen whether conventional poll campaign involving rallies and roadshows will be allowed by the time the election schedule is announced.
Most parties in Bihar fear that a campaign restricted to the “digital” mode would be of disproportionate advantage to the BJP, which has a well-oiled IT cell, and, by virtue of being in power at the Centre for more than six years, can marshal resources with far greater ease than its rivals.
Replying to queries, Jaiswal dismissed suggestions that the Centre was not providing adequate assistance to Bihar where an already fragile economy has been hit hard by the lockdown and massive influx of migrants from other states.
“Thanks to the benevolent leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar is getting much more than a larger state like Maharashtra, be it in terms of financial assistance or the burden shared by the Union government for central schemes,” said Jaiswal, who is also the BJPs chief whip in the Lok Sabha.
Interestingly, Jaiswal’s averment comes barely a couple of days after Sushil Modi wrote to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, urging that the Centre bear full expenses of all centrally sponsored schemes for one year.
“Be it fixing the problem of bad debts in banks, or long-standing issues like triple talaq and Article 370, the Modi government has always acted decisively,” Jaiswal said.
“The low incidence and fatality rate in the country during the COVID-19 outbreak have also been by virtue of the Prime Ministers leadership. A reason why he rules the hearts of the masses and would continue to do so,” he added.