Bihar elections may just be yet another clean sweep for NDA
Amit Shah announced the seat-sharing plan for NDA in the upcoming Bihar polls (BJP: 160; Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party: 40; Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party: 23; and Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular): 20) but will the tide be in their favour?
This election seems like a win-win for BJP-led NDA despite the Janata coalition having made a good start earlier this year. While the grand alliance of six parties was made to keep the BJP from winning Bihar their vision now seems jittery especially as Owaisi’s MIM pitches in brandishing the Muslim card. While Owaisi may not do much for his own party his appearance at these elections may well fall in favour of the BJP dividing the Janata coalition vote-bank on communal lines.
Moreover Narendra Modi’s announcement of the Bihar package and Amit Shah’s do-or-die spirit for the Bihar polls may turn the tide in their favour. This will also be a litmus test for Congress’ young scion Rahul Gandhi whose refueled energy will be seen at these elections. Amidst such forces it seems unlikely that the Janata alliance will survive given the indomitable temperament of two of its potent leaders- Nitish Kumar (JD-U) and Lalu Yadav (RJD).
Bihar has for long had an anti-establishment image with the state often being projected as having indiscipline and anarchy. This is a strong ‘media image’ in the minds of the people of the country. In this context Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had written in response to a letter from Union finance minister Arun Jaitley when he made a statement that It was a matter of great concern for a backward state like Bihar that on the basis of the formula used by the 14th FC for devolution of funds among the states, the share of funds for Bihar had witnessed a reduction from 10.9% to 9.665%.
It is for this reason that there was much brouhaha about Bihar being a Bimaru state where Modi addressed his rally earlier on saying he will ensure Bihar is out of this category if BJP is voted to power in the state. Bimaru was an acronym coined by the demographer Ashish Bose for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (UP), states considered to be ‘backward’ in India’s journey for growth and development.
As BJP continues to clamour for power in the state by trying to win the minority vote and staying ahead in the caste-driven politics, its ally Lok Janashakti Party seems to be a popular face among the Paswan community. But the main question is whether caste will be a factor or not. As we saw in the last national election that even in Uttar Pradesh caste which was considered to be an important factor in elections took a back seat. The main issue that remained dominant through the elections was development.