Race for 2024: Amit Shah to visit Bihar, Rajasthan
As the 2024 Lok Sabha elections inch closer, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to pull out its big guns in the opposition-ruled states. Union Home Minister and BJP chief strategist Amit Shah will reportedly visit the states of Bihar and Rajasthan in September. Notably, Shah's Bihar visit comes only weeks after Nitish Kumar broke off the JD(U) alliance with the BJP.
- Earlier this month, Bihar witnessed a political upheaval as CM Kumar ended the Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliance and joined hands with opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), forming a new Mahagathbandhan government.
- Notably, Bihar holds a big chunk of Lok Sabha seats and has Assembly elections due in 2025.
- Meanwhile, Rajasthan—ruled by the Indian National Congress (INC)—will undergo elections in December 2023.
Kumar's return to the RJD alliance has shocked the BJP, which termed it a "betrayal." For the first time since the BJP-JD(U) split, Shah will visit Bihar on September 17-18 and participate in government programs and BJP meetings in Kishenganj and Purnea, NDTV reported. The BJP's "Chanakya" will also oversee the saffron party's resurgence in Bihar now that it is the only opposition party.
Analysts say that the BJP may now have to project a state-level face in Bihar and cannot bank on just Prime Minister Narendra Modi's wide appeal anymore. If the BJP plans to go alone in the state elections in 2025, it now has to project a few strong candidate options. Shah will also visit Bihar's Seemanchal region, which has sizeable Muslim pollution (68%).
In 2019, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance bagged 39 of Bihar's 40 LS seats—BJP scored 17, JD(U) 16, and Lok Janshakti Party six. "The seats won here could offset the losses in the party's tally elsewhere...[Bihar] is the fourth-largest in terms of Lok Sabha seats," an anonymous BJP leader told The Telegraph. Shah's Bihar visit will be followed by BJP supremo JP Nadda's trip.
Shah will also visit Jodhpur—the home turf of Rajasthan CM and Congress leader Ashok Gehlot—in September. The national executive meeting of the BJP's OBC Morcha is scheduled to be held in Jodhpur from September 10-12. This is important as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) form a big voter base for the BJP in other states. In Rajasthan, they account for over half of the population.
Shah's visit is important with the Rajasthan elections scheduled for December 2023. Their most prominent face, Vasundhara Raje, who has Rajput, Jat, and Gujjar family connections, is currently embroiled in a leadership tussle. The visit will also send a strong signal to Gehlot, who's been facing the heat due to communal and caste violence. Meanwhile, Gehlot may also reportedly become the next Congress chief.