BJP woos young voters in Bihar

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going all out to woo young voters in the crucial Bihar assembly elections with the party giving them large representation while allotting tickets and planning a concerted grassroots campaign to motivate them to vote.

Party sources said the youth were unlikely to be swayed by caste considerations and hence they would go by the development agenda being talked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sources said young voters can give the party a crucial edge in the election where the ruling Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress have joined hands to defeat the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

According to an official data, 2.04 crore of 6.68 crore voters in Bihar are in the age group of 18-29 years. This includes 24.13 lakh first time voters in the age group of 18-19, who comprise 3.61 percent of the electorate.

“The young voters are not swayed as much by caste as others. BJP has strong appeal among young voters because it is speaking their language of development and progress,” BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narsimha Rao told IANS.

A party functionary said the party had its focus on young voters as they will prove decisive in the election where both the alliances are considered to be neck-to-neck.

“Young voters, who comprise about one third of the total electorate, are unlikely to vote along caste lines. In the last Lok Sabha polls, they had voted for NDA and we hope it will be again the case in the assembly polls,” the functionary said.

He said Modi continues to be popular among young voters and he is expected to address more than a dozen rallies in Bihar.

“We feel he will be able to woo young voters with his charisma. The real challenge for us is to enthuse them to vote. We are keen that young voters come out in large numbers,” he added.

Sources said as part of the strategy chalked out by BJP president Amit Shah, lists of young voters in each booth have been distributed among party workers.

The task of these workers is to contact each youth individually and motivate them to vote for the BJP.

Shah, who reached Patna on Tuesday, is expected to start district-wise “karyakarta sammelan (workers’ meeting)” to coordinate the party’s poll effort.

The BJP-led NDA appears to have also kept the caste equations in mind in giving tickets.

The party has given 65 seats tickets to so-called forward castes – Rajput 30, Bhumihar 19, Brahmin 13 and Kayastha three. It has given tickets to 22 Yadavs, 33 to extremely backward classes and to two candidates from the Muslim community.

Mahadalits and Adivasis have been given 12 tickets, Paswan 10, Kushwaha six and Kurmi four, according to party sources.

The BJP is contesting 160 seats and has left 83 for its allies – Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party, Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM.

The JD-U and RJD are contesting 101 seats each, while the Congress will fight on 41 seats.

Polling will be held in five phases between October 12 and November 5. Counting of votes is scheduled for November 8.

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