NAGPUR, Maharashtra: The ruling Janata Dal (United) in Bihar on Monday officially began its campaign for the state assembly election, to be held in October-November this year, through a virtual rally addressed by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Bihar will be the first Indian state to vote in assembly elections since the coronavirus pandemic began. Since traditional, physical modes of campaigning are difficult due to the nature of the highly infectious virus, political parties are being forced to think of new ways to reach voters, especially those without much access to technology.
The ruling JD(U) had pulled out all stops for the rally, claiming before the event that the link of the virtual rally had been sent to around 30 lakh people in Bihar through various channels. In comments to reporters in Patna on Monday morning, Sanjay Jha, Nitish Kumar’s close aide and cabinet minister, had called the virtual rally the “new normal”.
Post the event, the party claimed that the ‘Nishchay Samvad’ was a massive success and that Kumar had managed to reach every nook and corner of the state. One minister told HuffPost India that the streets were empty and “electricity was available”, which meant people were watching the rally.
“I was not in Patna on Monday. I was in my constituency, but from what I saw on the streets when the rally was going on, I can say that it was a success. The streets were empty and electricity was available everywhere and people were watching the rally using whatever link they had access to.
There was silence everywhere,” claimed Bihar’s Information and Public Relations Minister and senior JD(U) leader Neeraj Kumar.
“I also took feedback from three districts on the number of people watching it. I was told that women attended it in large numbers. All our active workers watched it because the chief minister directly interacted with them and gave them facts and figures.
There was a craze in the common public over this rally. This rally was watched in all parts of the state to the grassroots level because I received messages and photos of people (watching the rally),” Kumar added.
After the rally, Jha tweeted that over 15 lakh people had connected directly with Nishchay Samvad through the party’s online portals, a claim HuffPost India could not independently verify. The number was half of the minister’s estimate before the rally.