The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to begin its campaign in Bihar next week with a “virtual rally” by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who will address the people through video conference and Facebook live. Scheduled on 9 June, this rally is aimed at targeting “at least one lakh voters across 243 assembly segments” in the poll-bound state. With the Assembly elections due later this year, the party is taking a no-holds-barred approach by using technology for their benefit.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, mass gatherings or traditional campaign rallies remain prohibited under what is being called as “Unlock 1.0”. The digital medium has already proved its reach as the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme had an outreach of 60,000 booths in the state and the party has asked all office-bearers and booth pramukhs (incharges) in Bihar to ensure that booth members listen to ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal said that this rally would be the beginning of their digital campaign for the Assembly elections in Bihar. The 9 June rally by the Home Minister will be followed by similar campaigns by party president J.P. Nadda. The date for the same is yet to be decided. During the lockdown the national president through regular video conferencing had stayed in touch with party workers across ranks and the state president too has left no stone unturned to establish contact with BJP workers at all the 72,723 booths in the state.
Subsequently, the BJP is planning to have 150 rallies in the state in separate Vidhan Sabha constituencies. Alliance partner Janata Dal (United), too, appeared to be in an upbeat mood after the announcement of these virtual rallies. Talking to The Daily Guardian, JD-U spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan said, “We are happy about these rallies as it will translate into a mutual benefit scenario for both parties. This is bound to infuse new energy among the party workers.”
The Congress, however, reacted sharply to the announcement and termed it as “ill-timed and a brazen display of utter callousness when people are dying of coronavirus.” “When the ruling party should have addressed issues of unemployment and people suffering due to this lockdown, the BJP is busy playing with the sentiments of the people and focusing on electoral gains. There is no reason for them to celebrate when so many people have died and are still dying across the country,” said Prem Chandra Mishra, a senior Congress leader in the state.