Days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United parted ways with the National Democratic Alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party has set a target of winning 35 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Union minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda on Tuesday presided over a meeting of party leaders from Bihar amid hints that the central leadership may bring in new faces at key positions in the state.
Sources said the BJP is mulling changes at leadership positions in the party, including those helming it in the both House of the state legislature, as it works to expand its footprint in a region it has mostly played second fiddle to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led JD-U.
Bihar BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal told reporters that the JDU-RJD alliance is a betrayal of people's mandate and gives backdoor entry to "Lalu raj", a reference to the alleged misrule under the 15-year RJD reign when Lalu Prasad Yadav was either chief minister or seen to be ruling by proxy when he installed his wife at the helm.
Jaiswal claimed the poor considers Prime Minister Narendra Modi their "messiah" and the BJP will win more than 35 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2024 when the general election is scheduled to be held.
This was the first such meeting between the state leaders and the party's central leadership after Kumar snapped ties with the saffron party on August 9 and joined hands with the RJD-led alliance to form a new government.
Party sources said the BJP will now go out aggressively in wooing communities which it did not approach much earlier, a reference to the extremely backward and a section of Dalits considered core supporters of the JD-U.
The party will also work to build its base across the state as it has mostly contested on less than half of its seats in alliance with the JD-U.
Shah and Nadda deliberated with the state leaders as they strategised over the party's future course of action.
The BJP sources cited the feedback the party had received from its members, who were sent across 200 assembly seats in the state recently, to indicate about likely changes in the state.
The feedback was gathered ahead of a meeting of all BJP 'morchas' in Patna last month.
One of the highlights of the feedback was that while Modi continues to remain popular among people, they were not happy with the local leadership of the BJP.
While the meeting was held when Chief Minister Kumar was still heading the JDU- BJP government, the feedback received by the party said Kumar's stock had been falling among people, sources said.
Kumar's decision to snap ties with the BJP also presents the party an opportunity to expand its base, they said, adding that it may have to rejig its state leadership for this.
Union ministers Ashwini Choubey, Giriraj Singh and Nityanand Rai, and the party's senior leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad and Sushil Modi were among the state leaders who attended the meeting.