Gandhinagar: Between 6 and 7 this evening, Narendra Modi will connect with 1,500 BJP leaders and workers from across Bihar on telephone. The BJP’s campaign chief will discuss election strategy with them.
With this teleconference, Mr Modi, who is also the Chief Minister of Gujarat, is attempting to reach out to workers at the grassroots level of the BJP Bihar unit, which is in need of urgent resuscitation after the split with the ruling Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) last month.
There will be about 500 state working committee members and district party office bearers, an equal number of district and block level presidents and the rest of Mr Modi’s audience will comprise party workers at the grassroots level and people from social organisations.
Mr Modi will speak for about 15 minutes, after which he will take questions from five or six party leaders. The media will be privy to the conversation.
Apart from attempting a massive morale-boosting exercise, Mr Modi’s choice of Bihar to launch his election gameplan has political significance. The state’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had projected Mr Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s election campaign committee chief to sever his party’s nearly two-decade-long ties with the latter. Till last month, Mr Kumar’s JD(U) ran a coalition government in Bihar with the BJP. When he split from the BJP, Mr Kumar dismissed all the BJP’s 11 ministers immediately.
The Bihar party unit had strongly rallied behind the Gujarat Chief Minister – first, during his huge and controversial promotion at the BJP’s national executive meet Goa in June and later, during the public battle and subsequent fallout with Nitish Kumar’s party.
For months, Mr Kumar and his JD(U) had derided Mr Modi, always without naming him, accusing him of being a divisive leader and failing to check the riots in Gujarat in 2002, in which hundreds of Muslims were killed. Prior to their break-up, the JD(U) had, for years, also banned Mr Modi from campaigning in Bihar, a writ the BJP had accepted.