Although Nitish-led NDA has a clear edge in the upcoming Bihar polls, RJD-led coalition is putting up a good fight
-Roy Keshav Sharma and Nishant Kr Azad
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (C), Sr Leader Bhupendra Yadav & other
BJP leaders releasing party’s manifesto for Bihar polls, in Patna on October 22
Bihar elections have always been unpredictable but what can be said with certainty is caste plays a major role in them. Therefore, distribution of tickets, taking into account all the caste permutations and combinations, is a key to winning an election for a political party.
The political landscape of Bihar has undergone a sea change since 2015 Assembly elections. Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), which romped home in 2015 elections, parted ways with JD(U) forging an alliance with the BJP to share the power.
Given the restrictions and Covid situation, the voter turnout is likely to go down. Urban, educated voters, upper castes are most likely to skip voting, say observers. Since these sections generally vote for the BJP-JD(U) combine, they are feared to be at the receiving end. However, there is just an assumption. Another myth is that Muslimsand Yadavsvote en bloc for RJD. The data seems to suggest a different story. NDA has bagged 25-30% of the votes from total polled by these communities.This could be because of Nitish Kumar’s pro-Muslim initiatives where you can see that his government has taken several steps that have benefitted the Muslim community in the last decade.
It appears that in this elections, BJP-JD(U)combine is not being seen campaigning aggressively, though BJP has always been ahead of its rivals in campaigning. However, the NDA is leaving nothing to chance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address election rallies from October 23, which will enthuse the cadre. However, there will be criticism that his rallies which are likely to attract huge crowds will spur the spread of the pandemic.
The propaganda that BJP is helping LJP clandestinely will cast a shadow over the Gathbandhan. Another criticism is that BJP, which always attack the Communists virulently, has spared them this time around.
It is a fact that RJD’s promise of 10 lakh jobs a year has created a buzz among the youths. However, a large section of educated people is dismissing it as a political jumla. The reason: no roadmap on how this many jobs will be generated is not given in the manifesto. But the rural people are not that sceptical.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav (extreme right) with leaders of coalition partners
Fifteen years of Lalu’s rule had left many women voters scared. Immature speeches of Tej Pratap Yadav and irrational approaches have also alienated many from the party
RJD has an upper hand in rural areas. During lockdown, many people living in slums in Metro cities such as Delhi and Mumbai have returned to their rural areas. Another factor that may work in favour of RJD is its choice of a youth as the chief ministerial candidate. There will be a good turnout of youths for voting this time because of the Covid-19 situation. Old people will avoid going for voting. RJD took a right step by collaborating with Left parties.A large section of youths are Influenced by the Left ideology because the role model they relate to who took a good stand for Communism for pan India is itself from Bihar. Bihar is one of the most youthful states of India and RJD has struck right chord by prioritising youth in this election right from poll promises to campaign messages and management. If you look at any RJD rallies, you would observe all youthful faces on the stage taking charge whereas the scenario is exactly opposite with the NDA rallies where you see all old people taking charge of the campaign that has lost connection with the youth. Also, if you observe closely, you would notice that RJD has smartly got rid of Lalu Yadav from all its posters and campaign materials to ensure a clean youth image for the party which is also echoing with the youth voters of the state. No matter what is the result of the election, the RJD post-election will be Tejashvi’sparty with very little traces of Lalu Yadav.In a way Tejashwi Yadav might win or lose the election, but he has emerged as the sole leader of the party.
Fifteen years of Lalu’s rule had left many women voters scared. Immature speeches of Tej Pratap Yadav and irrational approaches have also alienated many from the party.
LJP, JAP and Congress will also play a role in this election because they will be acting as a catalyst in ensuring who will rule Bihar in the next five years. LJP is not likely to make a great impact. However, it can upset BJP’s prospects where party candidates are locked in contest with rebels. Anyway, there is no chance of LJP winning two-digit seats. Except in a few seats, independents are not in position to emerge victorious or play the role of kingmakers in the government formation.