Bihar is the most tinted State where the political battle is always interesting and it attracts national attention. Here the most interesting part is five parties are dominating the last 2 assemblies and 2 Lok Sabha. It is the rarest example that 5 parties exist and play their role in the elections equally well. The political climate is always uncertain Bihar and it is the reason where the forecasting isn’t accurate and certain about Bihar. At present Nitish Kumar is holding the CM post with the support from BJP and others. In the election, it will be an acid test for Nitish Kumar because of certain factors like the anti-incumbency, stand on triple Talaq, stance on NRC/CAA/NRP, Corona-virus handling, Migrants issue, Floods and disaster management issue, LJP stand on NDA CM face. NDA alliance had a larger vote share of 46% compared to 30% by Mahagadbandhan in the last election. So the same thing may repeat this year but JDU will sink further and BJP is likely to take the lead in the NDA. Unlike in the past three elections, when there was an overwhelming central narrative in Bihar polls to defeat Lalu Yadav and establish ‘Sushashan’ in 2005 and 2010 and to defeat BJP in 2015, no single issue seems to be dominating the current elections. Anti-incumbency, the return of ‘Jungle Raj’, economic hardships in corona times and widespread unemployment, there are many issues and the priorities vary from constituency to constituency and also depending on the voter’s historical inclination, often based on caste lines.
Meanwhile, the LJP going solo will hurt both NDA and UPA alliance. The recent demise of Ram Vilas Paswan will serve as a sympathy to the LJP. Lot of emotions will pour in. We may see LJP winning more seats than anyone could have predicted. The Dalit vote bank will mostly go to LJP which may hurt RJD. Similarly, LJP will contest against JDU in all the seats, with Paswans launching a series of attacks on Nitish Kumar in the campaigning may also hurt NDA in the end. I think the RJD from UPA and BJP from NDA will be the dominating parties. No Alliance will secure over 150 seats; it will be a tightly contested election. The performance of JDU, INC, LJP, CPI-M will determine the fate of their respective alliance. JDU has the edge among all the secondary parties. NDA is the favorite based on opinion polls but the poor image of Nitish among the unemployed youth and migrant workers may cost them the victory.
Arwal and Kurtha are the two main areas in Bihar. Arwal district is known not only for its geographical landscape but also for its political history. Despite being very close to both the regions, the electoral history is reversing completely. The election season in the country has been changing every year; people always want to elect a better party or better leader for goodness. The story of Arwal and Kurtha is also somewhat similar. The public will again play a wager in the coming elections; the future of both places will be decided once again at the end of the year 2020. Arwal kept changing the leadership in every election while JD(U) has taken fixed possession in Kurtha. Arwal, situated on the banks of the Sone River, and this constituency never had dominance of one particular party or leader. DularChand (LJP) won two times. But every 5 years since 2005, Arwal has been constantly changing its leadership. In 2010, BJP candidate Chittaranjan Kumar won the battle and RJD’s Ravindra Singh in 2015. It is currently difficult to decide whose government will be formed in the coming elections because we have seen the history of Arwal constantly changing.
Kurtha, a separate assembly constituency in Arwal district, is also a constituency under the Jehanabad Lok Sabha. JDU and BJP’s alliance in Bihar was directly affected in the 2019 general elections where the BJP did not divide the vote percentage and the victory went to JDU’s account. In Arwal, in every election, the public gave the chance to work to a different candidate and a different party, while Kurtha selected only the JDU party. So far as we all know the Nitish Kumar brand factor which gave the JDU the victory. His governance and so-called clean image were responsible to defeat BJP in the last election and revive the RJD and INC in Bihar. Whereas, RJD is the party that ruled the state for a long time and dominated the political ground like an undisputed leader. The Chief architect was Lalu Prasad. Then the party was managed by his wife Rabri Devi when he was in jail. Now the party is managed by his sons and daughter. With the cold war within his family is no more a secret. It is one of the reasons that with Lalu’s absence which makes a hurdle and obstacle for RJD to get the majority and position in Bihar Election. BJP, as a national party in power in center and Modi campaigns give them the boost to dominate the assembly election. The one factor which makes BJP out of chance or power is the CM face. Since 2015, the BJP is suffering for the same cause in Delhi, West Bengal, and Bihar. Until unless they have an influential and powerful leader who can compete with the Nitish Kumar and Yadav Family, they have to depend on JDU. Bihar has mainly five dominating parties and three of them always play an important role.
There was an era when without INC, Bihar elections were not imagined. But now the party is almost perished in Bihar. If INC contests alone in the Bihar election, the chance would be of 2 to 3 seats and 3 to 3.5% votes for Congress. LJP is a very lucky party. Most of the time, whoever comes to the Center, before that they join hands with them. This party understands the political weather and forecast. As a single party, it has its 8 to 9% caste votes with them. But they always docket with some or the other parties and get the best for their own. With only BJP in 2014 and with the support from BJP and JDU in 2019, they got 7 & 6 Lok Sabha MP seats respectively.
For the meantime, the spin masters and media strategists were never as important as they are today in any poll campaign. Though the best-known political spin master, Prashant Kishor, is exposed by his absence from campaigning in his home state, the spin of words is complementing the pace and gruel of campaign at grassroots. To explain the point further, All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi has been complaining that Yadav is quiet on Muslim issues. However, the master strategist of the Mahagathbandhan’s campaign Lalu Prasad Yadav, knows for sure that talking on these tricky topics would be walking on a minefield laid by the BJP. Like Jharkhand, where the Congress, RJD and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) fought together, the focus was kept on local issues and they successfully ousted the BJP government. So, the Gupkar declaration cuts no ice, and Rahul Gandhi mentioning China doesn’t get much appreciation in the strategy room of the grand alliance. In the back alleys of Bihar, not to forget that it’s India’s most politically cognizant state, there is also talk about the volume of vitriol which Chirag Paswan is pouring on chief minister Nitish Kumar. The narrative style which Chirag is pushing is definitely not from the repertoire of his late father Ram Vilas Paswan. The late central minister was never known to be abusive towards his political rivals and was rather known to enjoy a congenial relationship across the political spectrum, which helped him smoothly hop alliances. On the other hand, his son Chirag has even threatened to jail Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar for alleged corruption in the ‘7 Nishchay’ scheme. There is a feeling that given the history of conflict between known supporter castes of Nitish and Dusadhs (Paswan’s community), such venomous attacks on Nitish could consolidate the chief minister’s vote bank. Chirag is taking this conflict further ahead by putting up candidates against another National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner, Mahadalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).
The empowered Mahadalits, given Chirag’s spiteful attack on Nitish, could consolidate behind the chief minister the way they did in 2010 and 2015. This is the 15% vote share which Nitish showcases in addition to his traditional Kurmi supporters, the community he belongs to. Thus, the alleged BJP gamble to cut Nitish Kumar to size through Chirag Paswan could end up benefiting the incumbent chief minister. Let us see how the voters play with their power of voting and how successfully political parties mold it to their favor.