Indian politics has always been heavily influenced by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The states which send the maximum number of MPs to the parliament have always remained symbol of old style of politics. The caste equations, criminal record of the politicians, the cash distributed among poor to buy votes are some of the common news that we hear when the season of elections come to these states. Leaders making big promises, speeches that symbolically abuse the political opponent adds spice to the environment. Such an atmosphere is missing from the Bihar this time. The scenario in the state is different. Two phases of election is over and campaigns for the 3rd one is on, still no untoward incident is reported. Has the state rejected the old school of politics? Have the 3 Cs ‘Caste, Crime, Cash’ ceased to be the factors? Above all who will the people of Bihar crown as the next CM? Will it be cake walk for the ruling NDA to win the elections as reported or can the Lalu-Paswan combo make a spirited fight back? Will Congress be a factor? This post tries to find the answers.
[This Post is an outcome of through analysis of the reports from Bihar, the way they are reported and some on the ground information sources. Through this post the author tries to predict the out come of the Bihar election which is indeed a risky act as ‘the game of politics is the most unpredictable game’]
JD(U): Sitting Pretty at the moment as all the report suggest that Nitish Kumar will be rewarded for his developmental work in the first stint. While the last time it won the elections on Anti-Lalu wave, this time around it is fighting the elections with development as the central issue. No one can deny the work Nitish Kumar regime has done in last 5 years. The govt. not just developed the roads all over the state, but also act heavily on the criminals. Bihar is almost criminal free- a fact that even Nitish’s detractors agree on. In fact no criminal activity during the ongoing elections is a testimonial of the good work by the govt. along with its police.
The JD(U) has not lost any of its significant voting block in last 5 years, rather has added caste groups like Maha-Dalits (Most Backward castes) thanks to new agricultural and land policies. Nitish has been able to retain the Muslim voters who had expressed their faith in him last time. With all this added caste group along with its traditional vote bank, a new kind of voting group seemed to have decided to help the JD(U). This is the youth of Bihar who believe that development is the key issue. The women too have been positive towards the Nitish regime as they are now free to move on the roads even in the night.
It is not that the road to Patna is rosy for JD(U). There are some visible threats. The upper caste is upset due to govt.’s policy helping Mahadalits that is economically hindering the interests of the Upper caste. Some other are not happy the way the bureaucrats have gained power in the state. Corruption is still rampant. But Nitish seems to have been aware of this. Nitish himself says that his focus was to decriminalize Bihar in the last 5 year and for next 5 years he want to curb the corruption in government departments. These detractions may not be able to pose major threat to JD(U) thanks to the poorer alternative available. Biharis are still aware of the misrule of Lalu and Nitish Kumar stressing on Bihari pride is able to make sure that the minor threats don’t grow much. This party is all set to gain from these elections but the people may not still give a clear majority.
PROJECTION: 98-103 seats, change from 2005: +10 to 15
BJP: Ally of JD(U) in the state is dependent on the image of Nitish for votes. Campaigning with Narendra Modi didn’t happen due to JD(U)’s insistence and BJP has now no distinct image of itself in the state. While the Dy CM, Sushil Modi has done a remarkable job and helped Nitish to implement various projects, he doesn’t have the command over the whole party. If existential issues develop in future, he won’t be able to give a distict image to the BJP. The state functionaries seem to have been working casually and depending on JD(U) vote banks to win elections. The traditional vote bank of BJP- the upper caste is upset with the government and in last few years it hasn’t been able to add any new voting groups to its list. No recent threats to the party is visible yet it needs to think of the future if JD(U) becomes powerful at the expense of the BJP. It needs to keep the Orissa episode in mind and understand that if Nitish reaches a point from where the majority in the assembly will be within a striking distance he will be happy to dump BJP and rather like to take the help of others/independents or from the Congress. It should start the rethinking and restructuring program after the elections are over at least to make the organisation stronger in the constituencies where it will have the MLAs.
PROJECTION: 54-60 seats, change from 2005: -1 to +5
RJD and LJP: The parties which have to worry a lot in these elections are RJD and LJP. Lalu Prasad Yadav, one of the finest political mind of India and Ram Vilas Paswan, who never leaves an opportunity to remain in the power circle got the sense that the elections will be the key to their future existence. They also knew that the only way they can arrest the land slide of their prospects by striking a deal and fighting it unitedly. The Muslim-Yadav combination has worked well for these parties in the past and also their hope in this elections. There has been no significant addition of vote banks to their accounts and many friends have left them in the past. These make it all difficult for them to resist the NDA surge. The only thing they expect is not to let NDA sweep the elections as in the 2009 Loksabha Elections.
Some positive factors should make Lalu-Paswan happy. A recent Outlook report suggest that some muslims are planning to vote for them instead of congress due to latter’s silence on Ayodhya verdict which is seen as disappointing in the Muslim circles. And with RJD and LJP’s history of appeasing Muslim vote bank, they must have wooed this section of voters. Another factor, not significant though, is the sympathy. Lalu connects with the rural mass. These people made Lalu what he is today. One day he was regarded as their messiah. A chunk of rural mass having a soft corner for Lalu may return to him after seeing his bad days in the recent past. Lalu and Paswan are ‘unemployed’ these days and that doesn’t suit them. Withe Lalu literally begging for votes in the rallys, this sympathy may turn into votes and help him to save himself in the Bihar politics. LJP will mainly depend on RJD’s vote bank.
RJD: PROJECTION: 38-44 seats, change from 2005: -16 to -10
CONGRESS: Congress has already at its lowest position in Bihar and has nothing to lose. With fighting in all 243 constituencies, they are set to cut RHD-LJP votes. They should be happy with any positive change in their seats in the assembly.
PROJECTION: 13-18 seats, change from 2005: +4 to +9
PROJECTION: 24-27 seats, change from 2005: -3 to 0
No one can ever predict the outcome with a 100% accuracy. No one can even claim that. But what can be clearly predicted about the Bihar elections is that developmental agenda is rewarded by the people. This is what the old type politicians should learn and change the way they do politics. All give a hope for the future.