Bihar is about to go to polls in a matter of few months, and the situation already looks bleak in the state. With the Nitish Kumar-led government not inspiring much confidence in Bihar, and the BJP refusing to go solo, the state is running short of alternatives. Nitish Kumar has been the CM of Bihar since 2005, with only a small hiatus in between 2014 and 2015. Anti-incumbency is bound to set in, especially in the backdrop of uninspiring political leadership and administrative inefficiency.
The voters of Bihar cannot choose BJP even if they want to vote against the JDU. BJP has offered no viable alternative. The contest in Bihar is between the BJP-JDU alliance and the RJD, which might be backed by an insignificant Congress. The manner in which the BJP has decided to retain its alliance with Nitish Kumar means that anti-incumbency sentiment in Bihar would directly favour the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD. In fact, the RJD heir apparent, Tejashwi Yadav is already trying to tap into the anti-incumbency sentiment.
The most densely populated state of the country- Bihar has been facing the wrath of the COVID-19 Pandemic and devastating floods that have hit one million people in the state. Bihar has one of the lowest testing rates per million population in the country, yet, among the highest positivity rates. While the Coronavirus situation or the devastating floods haven’t really made news in the mainstream media, Bihar will essentially go to polls the context of these two factors.
Administrative apathy is as worrisome as the devastation caused by the catastrophes themselves. While Nitish Kumar’s leadership has failed to inspire, the Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and BJP’s tallest leader in the state- Sushil Modi has virtually emerged as a Nitish Kumar loyalist. Also, the state’s Health Minister, Mangal Pandey is nowhere to be seen.
The BJP has decided to retain its alliance with Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar. The Nitish Kumar government has been unable to effectively battle the two catastrophes in the state, but the JD(U) supremo remains the Chief Ministerial candidate of the BJP-led NDA.
What choice do the voters of Bihar have? When people are disillusioned with Nitish Kumar in the times of a devastating Pandemic, they will without a second thought vote him out of power, even if it means brining the RJD back to power.
With Lalu Prasad Yadav facing a jail term, the RJD was written off by all political commentators at one time. The memory of the RJD era in Bihar had become synonymous with “Jungle Raj”. But things are changing in the backdrop of an inefficient Nitish Kumar regime getting backed by the BJP.
Over the past few days, Tejashwi Yadav has shown willingness to corner the Nitish Kumar government over burning issues. Speaking to ANI, the RJD heir apparent said, “Parts of Bihar are flooded but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is missing and invisible.” He added, “He is not helping people or providing relief in this time of crisis. The villages have drowned completely. Kumar is missing from 125 days along with his ministers, and people here are dying.”
The RJD is banking on the sentiment that might be brewing against the incumbent regime. And this could actually do the trick for the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led party. The RJD need not promise good governance or administrative efficiency. When there is an anti-incumbency wave and the voters are short for options, they tend to vote for the other option even if that ‘other’ itself doesn’t have much to offer.
The Print claims that Tejashwi Yadav has become more visible. On Wednesday, the 30-year old visited certain flood-hit areas of Darbhanga and Madhubani districts. Senior party leader, Abdul Bari Siddiqui who is also an MLA from a constituency in the Darbhanga district tagged along Tejashwi Yadav.
As per The Print report, the 30-year old politician got a rousing welcome from the flood victims. He also distributed food among these victims who were in the circumstances of undeserved want. The BJP might have failed to read the writing on the wall, but the RJD knows that this is the time to capitalise upon and make a dent in the BJP-JDU alliance when Bihar goes to polls in a few months.
RJD coming back to power means that Lalu Prasad Yadav will once again be the biggest political force and influence in the country’s most densely populated state, no matter who the Chief Minister might be. And we don’t have to explain why an RJD government in the state of Bihar is not a very pleasing prospect.
If the BJP still doesn’t part ways with the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), then the unlikely prospect of the RJD storming back to power could become a reality. The BJP is running out of time and it must take a bold decision of going solo in the better interest of the politically crucial state.