The way around 20 political parties came on one platform in Patna, the 2024 Lok Sabha elections will not be a cakewalk for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BJP is celebrating 9 years 'Bemisal' of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and its lawmakers are going before the people to list the government's achievements. However, they are also facing some basic questions asked by the people.
The questions relate to price rise, crude prices are falling in the international market but fuel prices are not coming down in the country. The BJP promised 2 crore jobs every year and Rs 15 lakh in every account; what happened to all that.
When contacted, Samrat Chaudhary, the state president of the BJP, told IANS: "The opposition unity has no meaning. We have to fight at the local level in Bihar. The country needed a strong government and not a weak government like VP Singh, IK Gujral, HD Deve Gowda. Narendra Modi is still the trusted face among all sections. So, we are pretty sure that our performance will improve from the previous Lok Sabha election and we will form the government with complete majority in 2024."
Reacting to the achievements of the 9 years of Narendra Modi government, Chaudhary said: "The biggest thing for the BJP are those beneficiaries who get the direct benefit from the Central government schemes. The Narendra Modi government has constructed 55 lakh concrete houses in Bihar which means around 2.5 crore people have benefited from it.
"In the last three years, the Central government has given free foodgrains to 2 crore families of Bihar. Similarly, we provide health insurance to 2 crore families (On an average 5 persons in a family). That means 10 crore people out of the total 14 crore population of Bihar are directly benefited from these two schemes of the Centre.
"The Central government has also provided Covid vaccines to all sections of people in the state. Hence, wherever we are going in the state and discussing the basic issues, they are giving the feedback that no one is better than Modi ji."
On the price rise of fuel and commodities, Chaudhary told IANS: "The inflation rate during the Narendra Modi government is less than 4 per cent while the constant rate during the 10 years of the Manmohan Singh government was 8 to 12. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee handed over the reins to Manmohan Singh, the price of a LPG cylinder was Rs 245.
"When the Manmohan Singh government handed over charge to Narendra Modi in 2014, the LPG price was around Rs 680 which means a three-fold increase. Now, the LPG cylinder is available at around Rs 1100 which means the price increased only 85% approximately.
"The points raised by the opposition are not correct. In 2020 when I was a legislator, my salary was Rs 11000. Now it has reached Rs 1.5 lakh which is 15 times higher. So if we compare the inflation rate with the previous years, it is not justified."
Giving his take, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav said: "Bihar is the birthplace of democracy where big movements have taken place. Bihar had taken the initiative to show direction to the country during the Emergency and the same situation is there now.
"Top leaders from Kashmir to Kanyakumari came to Patna and were part of such a big meeting. We have not assembled here for ourselves but we are standing for the people of the country to defeat fascist forces. Our goal is to unite the country. The next election would take place not for one person, it is an election of the people."
However, political analysts have slightly different views.
They believe that the Lok Sabha election 2024 is not similar to the 2019 polls where the people gave another chance to the BJP and Narendra Modi to deliver.
Now, people are feeling that the Naredra Modi government has been given enough time to deliver but it has failed to control price rise, unemployment, crime against women, BJP leaders like Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh are facing serious allegations.
People have not forgotten how a Union minister's son Aashish Kumar Teni mowed down farmers in Uttar Pradesh. Manipur is burning for more than two months despite the double engine government of the BJP being there, analysts said.
"We have to understand that the NDA had formed the government in 2019 after winning 303 seats but the vote percentage was just 37%. That means 63% votes were given to other parties. The BJP at that time too was facing anti-incumbency but due to the dispersal of votes, the saffron candidates came first in 303 seats.
The BJP formed the government in 2019 only because the votes of the opposition were shared by various parties. Nitish Kumar is trying to remedy this and formulated a plan to put up one candidate of the Grand Alliance to fight against one candidate of the NDA," said V.K. Sharma, a retired professor of political science at Patna University.
"There is no doubt that the BJP is the biggest cadre based party in the country with Panna Pramukh (One person for every page of the voters' list) and Shaptrishi. But they are also facing tough questions related to basic issues. The BJP should come up with a new plan to counter the formidable opposition parties which have taken a shape in the Patna meeting and they will finalize it in Shimla," Sharma said.
"If you look at the graph of the BJP, it is declining in the country. At present, Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (bigger states) have complete majority governments. Besides, Haryana, Maharashtra etc have support based governments.
"Keeping this in view, Nitish Kumar and his party were earlier claiming to reduce the BJP to only 40 seats in Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, the BJP would not achieve the magical figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha. Now, with the support of 20 odd parties, he is claiming to reduce the BJP to less than 100 seats in the country.
"Suppose the BJP wins 200 seats, no one will support it as everyone knows that the BJP has an ideology to wipe out regional parties. Jitan Ram Manjhi, Chirag Paswan, Pasupati Kumar Paras are standing with the BJP at the moment but they will not take much time to shift their goal posts," Sharma said.