Bihar elections are just round the corner but BJP is yet to declare its chief ministerial candidate. Its allies are also mounting pressure, BJP indicated that it will finalise seat-sharing deal with them for the Bihar Assembly polls by the first week of September. Sources say just like Maharashtra BJP is planning to go solo, if seat sharing with their alliances fails. Narendra Modi’s rallies had set off a “storm of change” in the state which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his foe-turned-ally Lalu Prasad have ruled for 25 years between them, the saffron party said over 60 lakh people had attended more than 50,000 public meetings organised by it so far. Unlike the last two polls when BJP was in a settled tie-up with Kumar-led JD(U) with both parties having few differences, this time its allies have been piling pressure for a larger share of 243 seats going to the polls than it is likely to concede. Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP, Upendra Kushwaha-led RLSP and Jitan Ram Manjhi-led HAM are fighting the assembly polls in alliance with BJP for the first time.
The main cut throat competition will be between Janta Parivar (JDU+RJD) and BJP. Other parties will play a spindle in forming alliances. Lalu proved himself smart by supporting JDU because he knows he will definitely lose the game if he goes alone. The illusion of Modi waves have blown down to a larger extent, Bihar doesn’t vote on sentiments and after Delhi elections many equations have changed for the party. Nitish had worked for Bihar. It was he who brought safety, strength, status and growth of Bihar. After Lalu’s era, it was not easy to get Bihar on track. Nitish Kumar has more votebank and faith of the common man even after Jitaram Manjhi’s debacle as CM. As Chief Minister, he gained popularity by initiating a series of developmental and constructive activities including building of long-delayed bridges, re-laying roads that had ceased to exist, appointing over 100,000 school teachers, ensuring that doctors worked in primary health centers, and keeping crime in check. Nitish Kumar belongs to a socialist class of politicians. He learnt the lessons of politics under the tutelage of stalwarts Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, S N Sinha, Karpuri Thakur and V. P. Singh. Nitish Kumar again assumed office of Chief Minister of Bihar on 22 February 2015. Bihar Legislative Assembly election, 2015 is considered as the toughest election for him. He is campaigning aggressively for Bihar elections after the formation of Janata Parivar.
Nitish has long history of socialist politics; he participated in Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement along with Anand Mohan Singh between 1974 and 1977, and was close to Satyendra Narayan Sinha, a prominent leader of that time. Once upon a time, he was a face of Bihar politics when BJP and JDU were in alliance and he was much appreciated by many. Although in Lok Sabha elections JDU was wiped off by BJP, it will be really very interesting to see the ‘Ghamasan’ between Janata Parivar and BJP.
Caste is everything (amongst the masses) in Bihar, approximately, ninety per cent of the voting here is based on caste. This time also votes will be split to a largest extent on caste base. Most of the educated Bihari voters are non-resident; either they stay in Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata. They are earning their livelihood somewhere else, and it is highly unlikely that they would vote. In this election, Nitish Kumar is solely dependent on caste card. Without support of RJD his survival in Bihar politics is difficult. BJP is riding on Modi’s wave in this poll. From 90’s, Bihar politics is defined by castes. This time, it’s a personal war between two leaders; CM Nitish Kumar versus PM Narendra Modi. If Kumar wins, it will open gates of corruption for RJD MLAs who are out of office for almost a decade. This factor is very important in this analysis because these are the guys who could actually break the caste based voting pattern, but since they won’t participate, their opinion does not matter at all in reality. As I earlier said most of the educated Biharis are staying outside and voting in Bihar is pretty less, hence it is very much insignificant to bring out any difference in the outcome. Moreover, RSS is supporting BJP in Bihar and upper caste votes can completely go in the party’s favour.
Cash and liquor for votes still works in Bihar. And it happens pretty openly. Probably it happens everywhere, but I am certain that it happens here in every election. I don’t know how much difference it actually makes.
For some reason or the other, development doesn’t work here in elections. Apart from a few urban areas like Patna, people are hardly concerned about anything related to development. The one who is residing in Bihar continues to do so because some or the other reasons, else know one wants to stay here. Some had their lands and farms here and hence couldn’t leave. Some didn’t have proper education. Some had to stay here because of their government jobs. Some had to stay because their ancestors have left a lot of immovable property here. Ninety nine per cent people, if they had an opportunity, will leave this place.