The election fever is heating up in the Hindi-heartland state of Bihar and more and more candidates and political outfits are throwing their hat in the ring. The latest to throw in the hat is Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad who has announced that his Azad Samaj Party will contest the election on all the 243 assembly seats of Bihar. Chandrashekhar Azad alias ‘Ravan’ also announced that his party will not be getting into any coalition in the state and will contest the elections as lone-wolf. A cursory glance at the proceedings might give the impression that Azad is after the NDA vote bank, but, as it turns out, RJD and Congress are the ones sweating profusely over these fresh developments in Bihar.
RJD’s entire existence is built on the vote bank of Yadavs, Scheduled Castes and Muslims—all of them have been overtly-exploited by Lalu Yadav over the last few decades to squeeze the last bit of votes. Similarly, the grand old party of Congress is also dependent on the votes of Scheduled castes for its political survival in the state.
But, this is where things are getting interesting, as Bhim Army and its support base in Bihar is the same demography that RJD and Congress have been targeting. Chandrashekar Azad enjoys a massive popularity amongst the Dalits and the Scheduled Castes and he will be aiming to milk this advantage to his full effect in the elections scheduled to be held at the fag end of the year.
However, Azad is not the only one denting RJD’s and Congress’ chances in the state. In June, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by its Hyderabad MP, Asaduddin Owaisi had announced that it will contest 32 seats in the upcoming assembly election in Bihar.
AIMIM has mostly fielded its candidates in Muslim dominated areas and it has jumped in the Bihar elections with an attempt to orchestrate a coup in the state. Katihar district has three assembly seats- Balrampur, Bari, and Kadva- which are Muslim dominated. Purnia has two Muslim dominated seats in Amaur and Baisi whereas Jokihat in Araria, Keoti in Darbhanga are the other two seats.
With Owaisi’s party AIMIM and Chandrashekhar Azad’s ASP coming in the big picture of Bihar and making the contest quadrangular, BJP is set to gain the most.
The electoral equations of RJD and Congress will get clouded as they have only played caste politics and Muslim appeasement politics to consolidate its vote bank over the years. It is difficult to unlearn things than learn them and both the parties have their task cut out here.
Caste plays a pivotal role in the politics of Bihar. Barring a few castes, Hindus have moved towards the NDA and BJP in particular, but the arrival of Azad translates into doom for Congress and RJD whose traditional vote bank in the Seemanchal region will be under threat.
The Overambitious Azad might not get even a single seat in the state but he surely will erode the vote-share of RJD and Congress in Bihar. The outcome of Bihar elections might be difficult to predict at the moment, but, one thing is ascertained and that is BJP is set to gain the most from Azad Samaj Party and AIMIM jumping in the fray.