After Delhi Assembly polls, the focus has now shifted to Bihar. While Elections in the state are approaching closer, battlelines have not yet been drawn very clearly.
Broad pre-poll and post-poll scenarios are still possible as far as the upcoming Bihar Assembly Elections are concerned. We break down the three different scenarios that can develop in the coming days ahead of the Bihar polls.
1. Status quo
Union Home Minister and then BJP President, Amit Shah had made it clear in the month of October, last year itself that Nitish Kumar would be the Chief Ministerial candidate of the BJP-led NDA.
In the month of January this year, Shah reiterated that the elections would be contested under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. Sources have also claimed that the two parties have started working on a seat-sharing formula and they could contest on a 50-50 basis just like the Lok Sabha polls last year.
In the case of status quo remaining meaning intact, Nitish Kumar would obviously retain the CM chair and Bihar would have to continue what now seems like JDU’s highly an uninspiring leadership.
2. BJP snubs Nitish Kumar
The possibility of the BJP snubbing the sitting Bihar CM cannot be ruled out because of two broad reasons-
One, the manner in which the Bihar CM has tried to arm-twist the BJP on the NRC issue. Even on the issue of the National Population Register (NPR), Kumar has catered to Opposition propaganda. Not just NRC and NPR, but the Bihar Chief Minister seems to have taken an about turn over CAA, even though his party had supported the Amendment legislation in the Parliament.
Secondly, the Bihar CM had kicked off a rather defeatist election campaign last year. While the state is facing a number of issues, the Nitish Kumar led party came map with the unimpressive, defeatist ‘Theeke to hai Nitish Kumar (Nitish Kumar is all right)’ slogan, something that might not resonate with the electorate or the BJP.
In such circumstances, it should not really come as a surprise if the BJP makes up its mind to go solo in the state, projecting any one of its big leaders as its Chief Ministerial candidate, say, for instance, somebody like Nityanand Rai, who is seen as a leader of the same disposition as that of former Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis.
In the scenario of the BJP parting ways with the Nitish Kumar led the party, the BJP might either win handsomely or lose marginally, in which case it will win public sympathy and emerge as a strong, independent player in the state.
3. Nitish Kumar snubs the BJP
Nitish Kumar does not have a very encouraging track record when it comes to doing political loyalties, and even though he had benefited largely from Prime Minister Modi’s immense popularity during the General Elections last year, the possibility of the Bihar CM parting ways with the BJP and joining the grand alliance cannot be ruled out especially in the present state of affairs.
Over the recent past, there has been a lot of commotion over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the NRC and even the NPR. Nitish Kumar initially seemed favourable when his party supported the CAA in the Parliament. However, the temptation to join the anti-CAA lobby can always get the better of Nitish Kumar, given his so-called secular credentials.
The signs of a rift between the BJP and the JDU are unmistakably clear. Now, if Nitish Kumar is to join hands with the Congress, RJD and the Jitan Ram Manjhi led Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), then it would open up the electoral contest in Bihar.
In case of such a scenario, there could be a reverse polarisation in favour of the BJP, and Kumar would naturally be the biggest loser. Even in the case of the prospective grand alliance storming to power, the road ahead won’t be very easy for the JNU president and sitting Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar.
We have seen the pulls and pressures of an anti-BJP coalition government in Bihar in the past. In fact, when Nitish Kumar had become the Chief Minister in 2015 in an alliance against the BJP, there were talks of asking Nitish to quit as CM in 2017 and make Tejashwi Prasad Yadav the chief minister, within two weeks of Nitish Kumar’s assuming office.
The RJD is no BJP, and it has an interest only in Bihar. Therefore, there is no reason why the party won’t try to orchestrate a coup against Nitish. As such, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav might prevail over him and he might even end up losing the CM chair to the RJD.
Thus, even as we head closer to the Bihar polls, the electoral dynamics are not yet completely clear. However, we can easily make out three broad scenarios which are possible in the run-up to the crucial Elections.