In Bihar, manifestos become the last priority

Election manifestos have become the last priority of political parties in Bihar, which have already started campaigning for their nominees and adding colour to the electoral battle dominated by regional players.

While the Congress is giving final touches to its manifesto, the RJD-LJP combine believes in launching a personal campaign against some select leaders in the rival parties. The Lalu Prasad Yadav-Ram Vilas Paswan duo’s common target is chief minister Nitish Kumar rather than bringing out a manifesto.
On the other hand, the ruling Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine is asking for votes on the basis of its performance in the last five years.
The Bahujan Samaj Party on Saturday made it clear in Patna that it would not release any manifesto, according to an agency report. Its general secretary Gandhi Azad said in Patna: “Not a single promise made in manifestos is fulfilled in the event of parties coming to power. It is nothing but a bundle of lies.”
Barring the CPI(M-L), not a single party has so far came out with an election manifesto in Bihar whose outcome could start a process of political realignment in the Hindi heartland.
The Congress is the only national party fighting all seats on its own in Bihar while another national party, the BJP, has been playing the role of junior partner of the JD(U). But the BJP has decided to come out with a separate manifesto.
This was made clear by its leader and sitting Lok Sabha member Shahnawaz Hussain.
When contacted, Mr Hussain told this newspaper on Saturday: “We (BJP-JDU) fought the last Assembly election on separate manifestos. This time also the BJP will come out with its own manifesto. although we are fighting the election on different manifestos, our objective is the same,” he said.
While Mr Nitish Kumar has played the “Bihar pride” card, Mr Lalu Yadav believes in the “social justice” card and is confident that it could scuttle the development agenda of the JD(U)-BJP combine at the ground level.
The Congress is depending heavily on the Centre’s assistance to Bihar since 2004. Interestingly, the Congress, JD(U) and the BJP are asking for votes in the name of “development” and thereby putting the RJD in the dock. Mr Lalu Yadav and Mr Paswan can check the ruling combine only by playing the caste card.
Other parties like the BSP, Left, CPI(M-L) and others are contesting the election to create a space for themselves in the state.
Therefore, their manifestos may not work at the ground level.

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