Bihar bypolls: Grand alliance faces first electoral test, BJP eyes to turn tables with JP Narayan's legacy

This will be the first electoral battle between BJP and its former ally Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) after the latter quit the NDA in August.

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The bypolls on two seats of Bihar -- Mokama and Gopalganj -- will be a litmus test for the JD(U)-RJD alliance ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The polling will be held on November 3 and the counting of votes will be taken up on November 6. Notably, this will be the first electoral battle between the BJP and its former ally Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) after the latter quit the NDA in August this year.  

The Gopalganj seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MLA Subhash Singh, while Mokama will go to polls after Anant Singh from the RJD was convicted in an arms case and disqualified as MLA.

The bypolls will also be a prestige battle for the BJP, which aims at emerging as the lone warrior in the state after Nitish Kumar having severed ties with it to go back to the grand alliance fold. Planning to fight alone in Bihar in the next General Elections, the BJP is eyeing a repeat of the 2019 results when it won 39 of 40 seats.

The importance of the upcoming bypolls and urban local body elections can be estimated from the fact that Union Home Minister Amit Shah is set to visit Bihar on October 11, for a second time time in three weeks. 

Shah’s scheduled visit is to commemorate the birth anniversary of freedom fighter, socialist and anti-Emergency icon JP Narayan who became instrumental in toppling the Indira Gandhi government in 1977. 

“JP’s so-called students go to Sonia Gandhi and flash a victory sign after meeting her as though they won the world… JP said that his dream of Sampoorna Kranti will be realised when the son of a poor person will become the PM. It is PM Modi who made this dream possible and not raja ke bete who go to family-driven parties, don’t get a response and yet they feel elated," he said. 

The indications are clear that the saffron party is looking at claiming the legacy of JP Narayan by targeting Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar, the “products” of the JPN movement. 

Meanwhile, the alliance partners of Mahagathbandhan are in talks over allotment of seats and candidates. According to reports, the RJD, in all likelihood, would contest the Mokama seat it won in 2020 Assembly polls while the JD(U) is keen on contesting the Gopalganj seat, which the Congress too is eyeing. 

Mokama, a stronghold of Anant Singh, will be a challenge for the BJP, which would be contesting the seat after a long time. In 2015 Assembly polls, the BJP had allotted the seat to alliance partner Lok Janshakti Party.

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