Intro : For NDA, winning Bihar Assembly Elections is a matter of sustaining consolidation, but for Lalu and Nitish, it is a struggle for survival.
For survival, it is necessary to consolidate the energy otherwise the very survival is endangered. This Bihar Assembly elections 2015 is going to choose the consolidation of much talked supports of NDA or the survival condition of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav in the State and national politics. If NDA consolidates its position, there will be no survival of Nitish-Lalu or if they survive, it will be difficult for NDA or BJP to consolidate its base for coming future. On November 8, when all jam-packed trains will finally reach with all non-resident Biharis (NRBs) in different parts of Bihar on the wake of Diwali and Chhath Puja, the fate of State either in form of possible Jungle Raj or claimed Ram Rajya will already be out from EVM Machines. There is no doubt that again this is an election in which there is fight between BJP and all others. It is not just battle of Bihar but a deciding event of one political cult brought out by Lalu Yadav now Nitish Kumar trapped into that and the new kind or generation of leaders who want nothing but at least get out of very sub local politics. It is reflected even in the rally of Nitish Kumar when people were chanting Modi-Modi – PM Modi is supplying fuel in this political air even from California, USA. On the fillip side, it is the election that will finally decide whether Nitish Kumar has taken all decisions in recent past based on strategy or just out of his egoistic whims and fancies.
In Bihar, it is said, the election is not always the perception game because here it is caste which matters most. But a BJP worker in Motihari, Om Prakash Chaudhary claims, this time, Nitish Kumar joining hands with Lalu Yadav has made a perception which can defeat every caste equation. Nitish Kumar is now discarding the Jungle Raj, the term that he was uttering at least 10 times in day. At the time of election when Mulayam Singh Yadav opted his professional ethics than carry forward the Samadhi relation in politics, Kejriwal is saying, he did not go to Bihar for campaign for any party, Rahul Gandhi has left this battle field and learning something in USA and Asaduddin Owaisi is not accepting Lalu and Nitish secular leaders, it is clear that perception has made and it is enduring till November 8. A rebel MLA of JD(U), Guddi Chaudhary in Sitamarhi says, it is the last mistake of Nitish Kumar who has sacrificed everything to RJD. There is no alliance at the local level as a voter. Harishankar Yadav in Kuchaikote constituency of Gopalganj admits why a Yadav will vote for a JD(U) Brahmin candidate when LJP candidate is also Brahmin. He showed his compulsion to choose a Brahmin and says, better to go with NDA Brahmin.
Historically, after Congress and before advent of BJP, elections have been fought on personalities which reflected when Lalu Yadav got away from Janata Pariwar, Nitish Kumar and Pappu Yadav to make himself a strong power centre. Nitish Kumar started thinking about Naveen Patnaik model in 2010 but the winning strike rate of BJP did not give him opportunity. He could not wait and started all like restricting Narendra Modi entry in Bihar. Finally broken the long sustained alliance based on his confidence over his home made social combination. Thanks to Modi wave in 2014, he again experimented Jitan Ram Manjhi but backfired as his remote battery was not proved so strong like Sonia Gandhi. Now the situation has come when he has joined with Lalu Yadav and proudly saying him brother or secular brother.
Really caste is a matter like in any other parts of Bharat but here it is stretched up more. Lalu Yadav did experiment of Muslim-Yadav (MY) but it was certainly backed by Dalits and some upper castes. It was not a sole factor of MY equation that survived Lalu Yadav for 15 years. Nitish Kumar with his personal ambition and hidden agenda of alone getting majority started wooing Muslims and eroding the base of Dalit supports to Lalu Yadav. Much strategic thing was Mahadalit experiment in which he left only Paswan and categorised all Dalit under Mahadalit. When he tried to take this experiment at climax with Jitan Ram Manjhi as Chief Minister, it backfired because he ousted him. Till then ECB became anti-Lalu and made a block against OBC. Kushwaha started association with his new caste leader Upendra Kushwaha and Paswan remained with Ramvilas Paswan. Now Mushahar became vocal as they found their own leader, Jitan Ram Manjhi. BJP grabbed this situation and now it has stronger social combination because these three leaders are parts of NDA. So, the entire experiment of Nitish Kumar against Lalu Yadav has proved now harmful to both and Nitish Kumar arranged a caste coalition for BJP which has invincible now with upper caste traditional supports along with favourable political air that is based on Lalu-Nitish new relation and still pervading Modi factor.
However, so-called secular intellectuals in Patna and Delhi debating in TV news shows are claiming that still JD(U), RJD and Congress alliance has 34 per cent caste supports that is a combined possible supports of Yadav, Kurmi, Muslim and others. Commenting on these debates, a Political Science Ph.D. student, Neeraj Mandal says in Patna, all these debates are worthless because Bihari people in election behave as untamable beasts, people are tend to vote for a candidate if they feel others are also voting for him. So, the wave will decide, which is made by perception and BJP has already made it.
Apart from much talked caste factors, there are sentimental and developmental issues which are going to decide this election. Akhilesh Kumar Singh residing in Dwarka, New Delhi but engaged in membership drive of BJP in Bajpatti constituency of Bihar for almost one long year says, Nitish Kumar has cheated the people of Bihar. After breaking-up the alliance with BJP, Nitish Government has performed worse than Lalu Yadav. The issue of contractual Teachers, increased crimes, no industrial growth and
overplaying with politics rather paying the attention on governance are main issues based on which people are not supporting him. In Pirpainti constituency of Bhagalpur, Kiran Devi seems a housewife but a contractual teacher (earlier called Shiksha Mitra) says, Nitish has given us a Govt job but he is not paying salary and whatever he is paying twice or thrice in a year is not enough for survival. These teachers were beaten up many times during Nitish rule and now they are not giving him any credit for job rather they have become strong protesters against him.
The issues in Bihar are confined to two main planks, governance and politics. Related to governance, corruption at local level, Government employees’ dissatisfaction, increased crimes, bad education condition in villages, unfulfilled electricity promises, no industrialisation, nothing done for growth of private sector at all and bad facilities in cities or town are main issues on which Nitish Kumar is on back foot. So far as politics is concerned with which Bihar people are more associated, Nitish Kumar decision to avoid Narendra Modi, breaking the alliance with BJP and joining the hands with Lalu Yadav have generated a kind of hatred even among the supporters of JD(U). It is because of the public perception that JD(U)-BJP alliance was performing well which was unnecessarily disturbed by Nitish Kumar for his personal ambition. People are taking him now like Kejriwal and many people like bus driver on Patna-Muzaffarpur highway says, he is Bihar Muhmad Bin Tughlak who also joined the hands with Rahul Gandhi whose residence is on Tughlak road.
Bihar can be divided into seven political regions based on homogeneity of demography, geography and voting patterns. There are separate issues in regions but one issue is commonly talked about that is, Nitish Kumar’s bad decision of breaking alliance with BJP. This issue has generated somewhat a wave in favor of BJP and it is coupled with so many factors like Modi factor and the other issues based on which there are anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar. In all the regions, if the survival of Lalu-Nitish is tested objectively, it is endangered in real sense because at the local level, every region has strong local or sub-local issue also which are against them. It is Hindu consolidation against Muslim appeasement and Asaduddin Owaisi creating division of Muslim votes in Seemanchal, Lalu Yadav lost ground in Saran reflected his family not fighting there, in Bhojpur, upper castes strong consolidation with good influence on other castes in favour of NDA, Pappu Yadav separate party getting Yadav supports in Mithilanchal and finally Tirhut has also shifted its tilt from Lalu-Nitish to NDA because of a political churning fueled by new aspirations unfulfilled as this region has supported Lalu Yadav without getting nothing and now Nitish Kumar is with him.
BJP has well crafted its strategy to fight only at 160 seats conceding 83 seats to its partners. BJP did not overestimated itself as it knows well there is still some caste based support to at least RJD. To disturb this RJD equation, BJP has given good number of tickets to OBC candidates in its own cadre and LJP, RLSP and HAM have also accommodated all lower and upper castes in ticket distribution. In these 160 seats, BJP is way ahead of all parties since 2010 and these are strong base seats.
BJP has stronger position than JD(U)-RJD-Congress not only because of its avid campaign but due to no local alliance between RJD and JD(U). All these indicate only one fact, this election may again yield unexpected numbers of seats in favour of NDA. For this, pitch is ready, now matter of concern is only how to play on this flat pitch. It is now more bouncy for JD(U)-RJD-Congress than it was in 2014. Naveen Kumar (With inputs from Nishant Kr Azad)