Elections are like sales promotions on e-commerce websites: they happen at regular intervals; two-three big names are vying for your attention and showering you with offers, and are paying for full page ads on The Times of India. But deep down you know that all their claims are a sack of shit. Currently, it’s Bihar and its people who are going to elect someone who can disappoint them for the next five years
Nevertheless, Bihar is important to all the parties involved. It accounts for 40 seats out of the total 545 in the Lok Sabha, and a further 16 in the Rajya Sabha. BJP needs Bihar desperately, since it needs the nod of both the houses in order to materialize its promises. In fact, BJP’s need to win Bihar is second in urgency only to the need to discipline Sambit Patra.
This makes it important for the other parties to redouble their focus on Bihar, since most of them have one reason for existence: stop the BJP juggernaut, even if it means embracing sworn enemies. Lalu forged an alliance with Nitish Kumar, and got Congress on board even though Rahul Gandhi pretty much wanted him in jail. That’s the greatest worst example of political expediency since queen Kaikeyi had Lord Ram sentenced to fourteen years in exile. The Swabhimaan (self-respect) rally was the most misleading name ever for a rally, since all the three leaders dropped their self-respect faster than an American shopper at a Walmart during a Black Friday weekend.
So, pretty much everyone wants Bihar. The last time so many people were seen running in the same direction for seats was at Dadar station.
People in Bihar are known not as much for casting their vote as they are for voting their caste. In fact, caste is one of the two planks on which the parties are contesting, the other being who manages to make a bigger fool out of themselves during a campaign rally. For instance,
- Yadav community constitutes 14% of the total population in Bihar, and most of their votes went to the anti-BJP brigade of the present day (RJD, JD (U), Congress) during the 2014 general elections. This in effect was the greatest embarrassment for the Yadav community since that one time when Lalu decided to eat fodder for breakfast. But now that Mulayam Singh has maneuvered the 420th U-turn of his career and backed out of the anti-BJP brigade, and Pappu Yadav has left RJD, it is possible that the Yadav community might become as unreliable as their leader.
- The OBCs make up 51% and as voters, they are all over the place. The relatively powerful and successful OBC group is the Yadav community, and Lalu has them covered. The relatively worse off among the OBCs are known supporters of Nitish Kumar. However, the Koeri community with 8% share in Bihar ’s population might rally behind Rashtriya Lok Samata party, a BJP ally. Incidentally, RLS’s logo is a fan, and it’s only a matter of time before NDTV comes up with the headline “Modi’s henchmen from Rashtriya Lok Samata Party act at his behest to attack Lalu” after the incident involving Lalu and a fan.
Fan has hit the shit. Shit has hit the fan.
The Dalits are another community that wield significant strength. The Dalits make up 16% of Bihar ’s population and was a stronghold of the JD (U). In order to break up this community’s votes, Nitish Kumar had created a Mahadalit category. In hindsight, that strategy was akin to pissing off a dog. It came back to bite him. The Mahadalit category, and Kumar’s willingness to pander to them, was a key reason for his electoral success. Manjhi and Kumar are like characters straight out of Frankenstein. Now that the BJP is courting Manjhi and his Hindustan Awam Morcha (Secular), this voter base is all but gone. But frankly speaking, any party that appends the word secular to its name needs some sun, because it’s shady as hell.
- Then there are the Muslims, who make up 17% of the population, who are seen to be favorably disposed to the anti-BJP patchwork. RJD has always thrived on Yadav and Muslim votes. Congress is the other party which finds a strong backing in the Muslims. Owaisi looked like messing up the numbers by splitting the Muslim vote away from the Grand Alliance, but he has gone back to being Owaisi, and has declared that AIMIM will contest only six seats.
- A whopping number of Bihari people who are educated are most likely not staying in Bihar and are unlikely to vote, which in itself is possibly a big reason why most of the campaigns revolve around caste based arithmetic and mudslinging rather than on agendas that revolve around development.
Although many were of the opinion that the balance was somewhat tilted toward the fact that the Grand Alliance will get to plunder Bihar after the elections, they are not so sure anymore ever since Rahul Gandhi was deployed for campaigning.
Whoever wins Bihar stands to gain nationally as well. If NDA wins, BJP’s clout in RS is likely to increase. Kamal Nath will issue a statement saying “poll results are not a reflection on Rahul Gandhi’s leadership”. And Rajdeep will go around town singing
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Modi needs to answer for
If Grand alliance wins, it’ll be projected as though Rahul Gandhi has finally had his moment even though his only contributions were a few speeches where he made it clear that he spends an abnormal amount of time comparing the pros and cons of Lungi and Suits. Nitish Kumar will feel vindicated. Rajdeep, as expected, will go around town singing the same song.
To summarize, in light of such caste based arithmetic, and political expediencies, no one has any clue what is going to happen. Elections in Bihar are like Baba Ramdev doing his morning asanas: completely twisted, and no one has any idea of what part is going where. Attempts at predicting the winner are like celebrity outfits at Cannes: ridiculous, embarrassing, wrong, but are nevertheless lapped up by news channels.