Thursday, July 25, 2024

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Tejashwi Yadav leads INDIA bloc’s crucial Bihar campaign despite health woes

The battle for Bihar’s 40 crucial seats in the Lok Sabha 2024 elections is underway, spanning seven phases. The RJD is contesting elections as an alliance partner in the INDIA bloc.  The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in alliance with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners—the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and the Chirag Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), among others.

‘Unbearable Pain’

Midway through his campaign, following the first two phases of elections, doctors advised Tejashwi bed rest for three weeks to treat his back pain. However, ignoring medical advice, the 34-year-old leader has continued to campaign. 

On May 3, Tejaswi took to social media and shared a video of himself at one of his rallies. In the video, he lifted his shirt to reveal a waist belt that he was wearing to help alleviate his back pain.

“I am on painkiller injections and medicines for unbearable back pain. I am wearing a belt too,” Tejaswi said in a tweet in Hindi. Since then, the RJD leader has continued his campaign, addressing large crowds in his public meetings, occasionally, even in a wheelchair.

In one of his speeches, the issue of Tejashwi’s back pain led to a political war of words between the RJD and the BJP when he claimed he would not rest until PM Modi goes on ‘bed rest. The RJD had to clarify later that its leader meant ‘political bed rest’, not the literal ‘bed rest’.

Many say Tejashwi has no choice but to campaign, especially due to the health of his ailing father, former chief minister of Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Crucial Contest

The 2024 Lok Sabha election is a crucial fight for Tejashwi Yadav, who was deputy chief minister in the Nitish Kumar government until January this year when the JD-U chief decided to switch sides from the INDIA bloc to the NDA.

The Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD has remained out of power in Bihar since 2005, barring its 17-month coalition government with the JD-U, which ended earlier this year. However, the party’s vote share has increased after Tejashwi’s political debut, nine years ago.

Also Read: ‘We have crossed….’: Tejaswi Yadav’s ‘we have won’ remark ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2024 phase 5

In the 2020 assembly elections, the RJD, led by Tejashwi in its campaign, emerged as the single-largest party in Bihar, bagging 75 of the 243 seats and a 23.5 percent vote share.

The NDA won 39 of 40 seats in Bihar in 2019. Among its partners, the BJP had won 17 seats, the JD-U 16 and the LJP six seats in 2019. The RJD did not win any seat, while the Congress won just one seat from Bihar in the 2019 elections.

NDA Vs INDIA

With two phases of the Lok Sabha 2024 elections still to go on May 25 and June 1, Tejashwi Yadav has already addressed close to 183 public meetings across Bihar, according to a report in Indian Express.

Among other INDIA bloc leaders, Rahul Gandhi has campaigned in Bihar just once, so far. Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge has also held a few meetings. As things stand, the INDIA bloc seems to rely completely on Tejashwi Yadav for its prospects in these elections.

Also Read: ‘Jhunjhunu pakda diya’: Netizens mock Nitish Kumar for standing next to PM Modi during Lok Sabha election rally in Patna

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held 13 rallies so far, and Union Minister Amit Shah has held about six public meetings in Bihar. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also addressed rallies in Bihar.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has addressed over four dozen public rallies.

Five Lakh Jobs

Similar to the 2020 Assembly elections, Tejashwi’s campaign largely targets youth, referencing the reported five lakh job appointments he made during his tenure as Bihar’s deputy chief minister. He has promised that the INDIA bloc will provide employment to over one crore youth.

Also Read: Lok Sabha Elections 2024: ‘BJP’s abki baar 400 paar seat target is complete fantasy,’ Shashi Tharoor explains why

Lately, in his speeches, Tejashwi has also started including the INDIA bloc promises of giving 10 kg free rations and 1 lakh annually to a woman per family. This is apart from the usual INDIA bloc campaign against Modi, which revolves around the ‘need to save the Constitution’. 

300 Paar’

Earlier this week, Tejashwi claimed that the INDIA bloc has already won the Lok Sabha election 2024 and has crossed 300 seats. Tejwaswi made his remarks a day ahead of the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, which took place on May 20, in which  49 constituencies voted. “We have won. We have already crossed 300 paar (seats),” Yadav said on May 19. 

The five phases of the Lok Sabha elections to 428 of the 543 seats are over. Voting for the remaining two phases will be held on May 25 and June 1. The votes for all seven phases will be counted on June 4.

The BJP-led NDA, seeking a record third term, has set a target of winning 400 seats this election. The Opposition parties led by the Congress under the banner of the INDIA bloc challenge the ruling alliance.

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Published: 23 May 2024, 10:45 AM IST

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