Intro: Ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a package of Rs. 1.25 lakh crore for the State at a function in Ara on August 18. It is expected that the announcement will provide political mileage to BJP in coming Assembly elections. In the issue dated August 9, 2015, Organiser analysed the overall scenario of vote sharing in Bihar Assembly Elections 2010 and Parliamentary elections 2014. From this issue, Organiser is doing region-wise analysis starting with Tirhut region. Comprising of 49 Assembly seats, Tirhut region will play a decisive factor in coming election in Bihar.
Famous English novelist George Orwell took birth in Motihari in 1903, who announced “there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues”. Mahatma Gandhi reaffirmed it in 1916 on the same land against British. Tirhut region comprising Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Vaishali used first non-violent organised revolution in Champaran and first use of Bomb in Muzaffarpur in the same era. It is the political DNA of Tirhut which always blows with the currents whether it was with Lalu currents, sometime with anti-Lalu current and now it is with anti-Nitish current. Here there is no Ganga to forgive but Bagmati, always ready to destroy.
From 1990 to 2000, Tirhut was more generous to Lalu Yadav and most of caste based experiments were done in this region which sustained Lalu Yadav and his Party in power. The same currents were shared by Mithilanchal region which is adjoining with Tirhut. In 1990’s, not only Yadav-Muslim equation but Dalits were also most associated with Lalu Yadav along with some upper castes. It is because of the fact that this region has been known for more receptive for caste based rhetoric and there was very thin demarcation between OBC and Dalits at that time in this region. For example, Yadav and Kurmi in other regions are more economically stronger than this region. However, with the passage of time, OBC of this region became more economically stronger as this community received more benefits of Lalu regime.
At the economic and social influence level, the progress of OBC (especially Yadav) caused a drift between OBC and Dalit castes. In proportion to this level, Lalu Yadav’s popularity was waned which was coupled with upper castes’ revengeful attitude towards RJD. All these things started after 2000 and culminated in 2005 election which reduced him to 54 seats and finally, in 2010 election, he came down to just 22 seats. NDA (BJP+JD (U)) got whooping majority with 206 seats out of total 243 seats in 2010 that is mainly because of political replacement in this region.
In Tirhut region, there are 49 seats out of which NDA got 45 seats in 2010 Assembly election and won in 47 Assembly segments without JD (U) in 2014 Parliamentary election. Muzaffarpur and Purvi Champaran are most politically important because these two districts have 23 seats, both dominated by strong caste fault lines. In this entire region, Nitish Kumar’s social experiment of Mahadalit has been disturbed by Jitan Ram Manjhi and Ramvilas Paswan. Unlike in Magadh region, JD(U)’s main supporting caste, Kurmis do not have significant social influence in this region. Here Yadavs are key factor coupled with Muslims but it is not certain that now how many seats RJD is going to contest in this region. If JD (U) gets more seats here, it will be advantageous for BJP because this region basically belongs to RJD.
This is a region of political personalities without being at the top, just deciding the top. Raghuvans Prasad Singh of RJD, Ramvilas Paswan of LJP and Union Agriculture Minister, Radha Mohan Singh of BJP are the top leaders along with others like Dev Narayan Thakur, Capt. Jai Narayan Nishad and Ramai Ram. Satish Chandra Dubey of BJP, Dr, Sanjay Jaiswal of BJP, Radha Mohan Singh of BJP, Rama Devi of BJP, Ram Kumar Sharma of RLSP, Ajay Nishad of BJP, Rama Singh of LJP and Ramvilas Paswan of LJP are MPs from this region.
How JD (U) will balance with RJD at local level will be crucial here. It is not certain that RJD local workers will support JD (U) candidates. But some top leaders of RJD are still looking unhappy with this alliance. Raghuvans Prasad Singh of RJD said in his recent statement: “There has been hurry in announcing the sharing of seats for the coming election in Bihar”. JD (U) has 24 MLAs and RJD has only 1 MLA in this region. But JD (U) won 24 seats because of anti-Lalu political air and supports for BJP otherwise caste equation in this region always been in favor of RJD than JD (U). BJP has 21 MLAs in this region but in alliance with RLSP, LJP and HAM, now it has more sizable caste equation in its own favour. These three parties are representing Kushwaha, Paswan and Mushar castes. These three castes along with upbeat moods of business castes of OBC and upper castes will be enough to make strong air against Lalu-Nitish alliance.
Naveen Kumar (The writer is a senior political analyst)