The most political effect of coronavirus is seen in Bihar, where the assembly election is going to be held in October-November this year. The issue of migrant labourers and students will be the pivot on which the coming election will hinge. In the beginning, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar had rejected the issue of bringing back migrant workers stranded outside the state during nationwide lockdown to curb Covid-19 pandemic, but under the pressure of BJP, Nitish allowed them to return.
The rumours in the political circle say that BJP is likely to fight the assembly election alone and Nitish Kumar is busy making his own alliance. In this regard, Nitish met former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and discussed the possibility of a future alliance. Jitan Ram Manjhi is angry over the issue of who’s to be the chief ministerial face for the opposition Mahagathbandhan in Bihar. In the ruling JD(U)-BJP camp, junior coalition partner LJP has its chief Chirag Paswan singing a new tune, saying that the BJP will decide the name of coalition chief minister for the upcoming 2020 Assembly polls.
In this regard, BJP has already started its campaign with Home Minister Amit Shah’s virtual rally in Patna. This faced opposition as RJD’s Rabri Devi and her sons—Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav– along with other RJD leaders were seen beating thalis to protest against Shah’s virtual rally, with the former naming the occasion ‘Garib Adhikar Diwas’ in Patna. Tejashwi Yadav declared that his party will fight the election on the issue of migrant workers and rights of the poor left hanging in the wake of the pandemic. According to political observers, the JD (U) and BJP will continue the alliance because it offers them a better chance of coping with anti-incumbency. Meanwhile, SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav said that BJP is unable to face the public and is therefore doing virtual rally. The Congress party also hit out at the BJP over Shah’s rally and said that the ruling party is doing electoral politics amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rahul Gandhi-Rajiv Bajaj Q&A Draws Praise from Sena Mouthpiece
Industrialist Rajiv Bajaj has said that the lockdown flattened the wrong curve as it decimated the GDP and economy. In a conversation with former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Bajaj also claimed a friend of his suggested that he should avoid speaking to Gandhi to avoid trouble. On exiting the lockdown, the head of Bajaj Auto, the country’s leading two-wheeler manufacturer, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should allay the fears of people if the government wanted the ‘living with the virus’ strategy to succeed. Congress leaders claimed that dozens of big businessmen called them to express happiness and endorse Bajaj’s point of view. Their main concern was the lack of substance in the Rs 20 Lakh crore stimulus package announced by the centre. Meanwhile Shiv Sena, which operates in Mumbai and knows more about corporate culture than other parties said that Bajaj mustered up the courage because of his clean business model and personal lineage which others may not have. In an editorial mouthpiece, Saamana, the Sena said “Jo dar jaye woh Bajaj Nahi”. The editorial recalled the Bajaj legacy that emanated from the freedom fighter, Jamnalal Bajaj and said: “The family always thought of society and the country they did not surrender to power to win contacts and hence the courage to speak the truth.”
Despite Bengal Visit, Modi and Mamata Keep Distance
The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Cyclone Amphan-hit West Bengal was initiated by the Bhaskar Kulbe, advisor to the PM. Kulbe belongs to the West Bengal cadre and approached Gautam Sanyal, Mamata Banerjee’s principal secretary in this matter. In response, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee invited PM Modi. The BJP unit of West Bengal has prepared itself to get full mileage out of the visuals of the PM trip. The announcement of Rs1000 crore aid to the state by the PM has given full opportunity to the BJP state unit to advertise the matter with the state assembly election scheduled for next year. CM Mamata Banerjee made it clear that she was not overwhelmed by the Modi visit. At the airport, Dilip Ghosh, the BJP state president, along with many BJP leaders, welcomed the PM, while Mamata Banerjee was seen reading some files that she was carrying in her hand. Banerjee welcomed the PM with a simple namaskar and kept her distance on the aircraft. Later, she demanded Rs 5000 crore from the Centre for the damage caused due to the cyclone.
Resigning MLAs Dampen Congress’ Chances in Gujarat RS Polls
Due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the Rajya Sabha elections were initially deferred. Now, with the easing of the lockdown, the elections to the vacant Upper House seats will be held on 19 June. There are four Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat, for which BJP and Congress are fighting with each other. The politics of Gujarat shows the old pattern, which was seen in 2017, when Ahmed Patel, the Congress leader was elected by a whisker. The Congress has 73 MLAs in the house of 182 MLAs. Congress had the confidence to win two seats for which it has fielded senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki. On the other hand, the BJP, which has 103 MLAs in the assembly, has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramilaben Bara, and Narhari Amin for the June 19 polls. Five Congress MLAs had resigned and joined BJP in March. With the resignation of Akshay Patel and Jitu Chaudhury on June 3 and that of Brijesh Merja on June 5, the Congress strength in the 182-member house has been reduced to 65. As a result, the Congress may find it difficult to win two Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat as in 2017 when the BJP nearly stopped Ahmed Patel. However, now they can stop one of the Congress candidates from entering the Rajya Sabha. At present, the effective strength of the House, stands at 172 as ten seats are currently vacant – two due to court cases and the rest because of resignations.
COVID Defers Shivakumar’s Plans for Full Charge of Karnataka Congress
The Vokkaliga leader DK Shivakumar, who was appointed the Karnataka Congress chief a few days before the lockdown, wanted to take charge at a public event, but the lockdown regulations prevented him from getting the necessary permissions. He has been functioning as the chief, but will now have to wait for the pandemic to ease out. He has made his presence felt with the offer to pay migrant workers’ travel fares, an idea picked up by Sonia Gandhi for nationwide implementation, much to the disappointment of the Centre.