Battered by floods while grappling with a global pandemic. Every five years or so, political parties tom-tom a slew of promises and, in particular, terms like "development" before the electorate, but flood management, rescue and relief efforts have been key reasons to vote in the eastern state of Bihar slated to go to polls towards the end of the year.
"Our workers have been on the ground, reaching out to those impacted by this dual tragedy. However, the decision of the Centre to provide free ration for eight months through Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be a massive game changer," BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal told CNN-News18.
Opposition parties led by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have repeatedly attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over his absence from the ground as people contend with floods. Tejashwi Yadav, in particular, has accused Kumar of failing on all fronts.
"RJD leaders have gone out to the people and said that they want to see a repeat of the development in the state as it was during the party's rule between 1992 and 2005. They are sadly unable to come out of the shadows of the past," said Jaiswal.
Many observers say party patriarch Lalu Prasad Yadav being in jail has added to the RJD's woes. "If he was out of jail and spearheading the party's campaign, it would possibly have been a different story," Jaiswal said."Lalu was out in 2010, even then the RJD got just 20 seats. And in 2015, they rode on the back of Janata Dal (United) to win. Lalu is hardly a decisive factor."
The BJP Bihar unit is preparing itself for the polls, hoping at this point for no delay. The elections, most likely, would be held in mid-October.
With 15 years of governance in the state and over six years of central rule, the BJP is confident its work for villagers, farmers, poor, women, youth, etc, has proved once and for all that 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' now has 'Sabka Vishwas'.
Jaiswal, the BJP MP from Paschim Champaran, says his party has made it amply clear that it will contest the Bihar polls together with the JD(U) and Kumar will be the face of the alliance.
"Nitish ji will be our CM face. However, we will contest the Bihar assembly polls in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name. His exemplary leadership and constant efforts to take the nation ahead speak for themselves," he says.
The campaigning for Bihar will not be a usual affair since the novel coronavirus pandemic is still raging without revealing any signs of respite in the near future. A vaccine seems unlikely before next year.
Jaiswal adds depending on a virtual campaign in a state like Bihar may be a bit far-fetched. Some rural areas don't even have internet. His party, however, has been trying various things for a while. While Jaiswal has himself stressed on virtual connect from as early as mid-March, the stupendous success of digital rallies by union home minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda recently has provided the much-needed motivation.
"It will be impossible to hold big political rallies and bring a congregation of people in these testing times. While we hope to have a series of virtual rallies, the focus will be on door-to-door campaigning too," he said.
The BJP is expected to see some fast-paced developments on the Bihar poll front in the next month or so. Meetings between the state and central leadership will definitely peak during this period.
"This time around, in the Bihar polls, our karyakartas will be more important than the netas," says Jaiswal.