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Maharashtra, Bihar For “400 Paar”: The PM Steps Up BJP Ally Campaigns In Two States

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigning in Maharashtra and Bihar, which together produce 98 Members of Parliament and where the BJP is a member of the governing coalitions, has been stepped up by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The PM is actively campaigning in both states, even in seats that the BJP’s allies are running for.

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The prime minister has already hosted 14 rallies in Maharashtra, and he may hold up to 17 or 18 more in the near future—double the nine rallies he conducted in 2019. The PM has so far hosted six rallies in Bihar. Modi will perform in Patna on May 12 and host three additional rallies on May 13 as part of his two-day visit to Bihar.

Remarkably, out of the nine rallies held by the Prime Minister in Bihar up until May 13, five of them were for seats that the three BJP coalition partners—Janata Dal United (JDU), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM)—were vying for. Four of the 14 rallies held in Maharashtra were for seats that the BJP’s main partners, the Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, were running for. On May 15, the PM is scheduled to conduct two rallies in Maharashtra, focusing on the two additional seats that the BJP’s allies are running for: Nashik and Kalyan. The PM still has to campaign in any of the four seats that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by Ajit Pawar, is running for.

While the BJP is still strong in the 17 seats it is running for in Bihar and the 27 seats it is running for in Maharashtra, political observers note that this may not be the case for its partners in both states, who are depending on the success of the “Modi appeal.” This might account for the PM’s vigorous campaign in seats that the BJP’s allies are contesting in both states. Political observers note that there is a perception on the ground that the original factions of Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar enjoy public sympathy in these elections and that the two new allies of the BJP in Maharashtra, the Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar factions, remain untested in the electoral arena thus far. However, following his many political backpedalings, Nitish Kumar’s and JDU’s support seems to be declining in Bihar.

Defense Minister and prominent BJP figure Rajnath Singh responded to a question in a recent interview by saying, “See, people this time are not seeing all this.” All they see is that a larger majority would be needed to elect Narendra Modi as prime minister a third time, which will only make him more powerful. People would ignore their shortcomings and express their displeasure with our partners in Bihar or Maharashtra if they wanted to vote for Modi.”

In Bihar, the JDU is running for sixteen seats, while the LJP is running for five. Thus far, the PM has campaigned in the JDU-contested seats of Munger and Purnia as well as in Jamui for the LJP. On May 13, the Prime Minister will address a rally in Hajipur, where Chirag Paswan, the late Ram Vilas Paswan’s son, is running for office in the LJP.

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