It is no secret that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has embarked on a mission to position himself as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Opposition parties in 2019 General Elections. Attending events in states beyond Bihar in the last one year to advocate total prohibition is one of the several initiatives the CM has undertaken to realise his mission. Now Kumar has decided to connect with the youth of the country, in a bid to increase his appeal among them.
“This will be first such interaction by any socialist leader with students after the JP movement in which the student community had played a key role,” The Indian Express reported JD (U) general secretary KC Tyagi as saying. “This is the beginning of Nitish’s interaction with students. He will visit universities and colleges in a number of states to connect with the youth.”
Interestingly, in the run-up to 2014 General Elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also interacted with students and his appeal among them soared with every such visit, while Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi continues to do so. As per the plan, the Bihar CM will interact with youths on a specific theme: “India of My Dreams”. In 2014, the theme of PM Modi’s interaction was “Idea of India”. Tyagi called it “India of Nitish’s dreams” vis a vis Modi’s “Idea of India”, reported The Indian Express.
During the events at colleges, Kumar will first speak for an hour and then the floor will be thrown open for questions from students. The format will be similar to those followed by Modi and Rahul.
In 2014, Modi started his election campaign by addressing students at Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce. Later, he also interacted with students of about 200 colleges at a Delhi stadium. Ever since the Congress lost political space to BJP in 2014, visiting colleges to interact with students has become an important feature of Rahul’s attempts at resurrection.
Behind Nitish’s move to connect with the youth, there is also pure mathematics. As per the Census 2011 data, there were about 149 million first-time voters aged 18-23 years in 2014 General Elections. This may go up by 2019.
Even as Kumar has been able to gain the sympathy and trust of women and other sections of society in Bihar as well as some other states by implementing prohibition, his stand against liquor has certainly not gone down well with the millennials. Will he be able to drive home his message against liquor among the youths, however, remains to be seen.