From last few days I have seen an increasing number of “opinions” and “editorials” on the internet about BJP rapidly losing grounds in Bihar. The opinion pieces generally quote a BJP insider, even a leader of cabinet minister rank who wishes to stay anonymous. The articles talk about a rift between local leadership and the national leadership and also between BJP and its NDA allies. Some articles have gone ahead and declared Modi’s poll strategy weak and superficial as compared to Nitish Kumar’s which was more powerful and deep. Many of them call Bihar Elections 2015, a repeat telecast of the Delhi Assembly Elections in which Arvind Kejriwal and his Jhaadoo Wielding army trounced a disordered BJP. Every article claims to read the minds of the Bihari Electorate.
I am neither a psephologist nor a specialist in observing trends and quantifying them into meaningful parameters. I do have the ability of differentiating between a report and a propaganda piece though. I sense a definite agenda behind these “well researched” editorials by “branded” editors. But I’ll come to the agenda later on, first of all let us discuss the Bihari Electorate.
By any yardsticks, Bihar is no Delhi or even Maharashtra or Haryana for that matter. If some political analyst thinks that he can read into the minds of 17% Muslims, 13% Yadavs, 7% Koeri-Kushwahas, 3% Kurmis, 5% Baniyas, 19% Upper castes (Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput, Kayastha and other UCs), 6% Paswans, 9% Mahadalits and 21% EBCs, I congratulate him on his superhuman exploration skills. Bihari Electorate is as complicated as they get as far as their caste profiles are concerned and the fact that they are more politically aware and understand the ground realities better than most of the state electorates in India, makes Bihari Electorate even more complicated. And even if the media wants to make you believe that it is caste and caste alone that drives the Bihari Electorate, the reality is different. Nitish Kumar’s first term can be called the vengeance of the Upper caste and the Yadav fearing EBCs, the “Vikaas” outline furthered his voter base in last elections. The point that I am trying to make here is that Bihari Electorate is difficult to read and no matter how seasoned a political analyst is, he cannot declare a victory or a loss by any superficial analysis. The only way to predict the election outcome is by interviewing every voter individually and expecting a 100% honesty from them. And you know that is not possible.
So why this “BJP lost steam midway in Bihar” propaganda?
The Bihar legislative assembly elections are to be held in five-phases in October–November 2015. Out of these 5, first 2 are over. 50 assembly seats will be covered in Phase 3 which includes Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Patna, Bhojpur and Buxar. In Phase 4, 55 assembly seats will be covered which includes Pashim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Kanti, Gopalganj and Siwan. The last phase i.e. Phase 5 will cover 57 assembly seats, which includes Madhubani, Supaul, Araria, Kishangaj, Purnia, Katihar, Madhepura, Saharsa, Darbhanga. So we have a total of 157 seats up for grabs, 157 seats that can make and break careers. Although Lalu may survive a political onslaught, Nitish Kumar will be looking at political wilderness if he loses. Needless to say, BJP will be stronger than ever and it will have the required numbers in the Upper House. So the leaders will try every trick in the book to stop the other party from winning. “Perception Building” is one of the most powerful techniques used to disorient or even disenchant a potential voter. Bihari Electorate
In case of Bihari Electorate, there are two types of voter groups that can be lured into voting for the “potential winner” or can be dissuaded from voting his favorite party.
The first subgroup of the target Bihari Electorate is the well settled, typically upper class Bihari voter staying outside Bihar who needs to buy a train or an air ticket in order to exercise his voting rights. He routinely goes through such articles and the widespread speculations of his favorite party losing may discourage him from traveling to Bihar. Number of well settled Biharis outside Bihar is humongous and their disenchantment with the ongoing elections is going to be a blow for the Bhartiya Janata Party.
The second subgroup of the target Bihari Electorate is the “vote for the winning party” voter. Elections come every 5 years and everyone wants to make his vote count. Everyone wants his favorite party to win but no one wants to vote for the losing party. Such voters analyze the situations, go through papers and media reports, discuss among friends and family, apply their own calculations and then vote for the winning party. They do not care about ideologies and alignments, they just go with the flow and vote for the winning party. Bihar (Also Uttar Pradesh) has a surprisingly high number of “Go with the Flow” voters. Such voters are susceptible to the perception building technique of the media.
In closing, I’d like to say – the game is on. It is a tight competition and sentiments are running high. Please do not fall for malicious propaganda and change your minds. Every single vote counts. Bihari Electorate