Bihar assembly election, 2020, is scheduled in October-November and every political party is trying to mould political equations in its favor. Hindustani Awam Morcha’s (HAM) movement from RJD led Mahagathbandhan to NDA has ruggedized the LJP’s place in Bihar’s political space.
Nitish Kumar, who sees LJP as a threat, brought Jitan Ram Manjhi in NDA to put a break on Chirag Paswan’s aspirations. LJP has already expressed its displeasure in working with Nitish Kumar. “Our simple question was is there any one thing that the Nitish Kumar government has achieved which can be used as a poll plank in this Assembly elections,” said a senior LJP leader.
So, it looks like the entry of HAM in NDA will mark the exit of LJP from the alliance. The party will take the final decision on whether to remain in the alliance on Monday in a party meeting.
Nitish Kumar, whose only aim is to remain seated on CM chair for another 5 years, has tried to strengthen hold on Dalit vote bank by bringing HAM in the alliance as well as corner LJP. He has already overcapitalized the reclassification of some sections of Dalit population as ‘MahaDalits’ and now the community has started moving to other parties.
LJP has repeatedly accused Nitish Kumar government as anti-Dalit. “I have nothing against Nitish Kumar, my issues are ideological. All I am saying is we could have delivered far better governance in the past 15-years and I am only pointing out these shortfalls to my Chief Minister. This is why I strongly demand that even before any negotiations on the number of seats or names of seats, we should draft a common minimum programme,” said Paswan.
LJP sees an opportunity to enlarge the influence of the party among Dalit population and project Chirag Paswan as future leader of CM of Bihar. Paswan came up with a vision document on “Bihar first, Bihari first” which will be released once the election dates are notified.
The party has constantly attacked Nitish Kumar but said that it has nothing against BJP and wants to keep healthy relations with the saffron party. “We are not against the BJP. Even if we fight the elections on our own, we will not put up candidates against the BJP. But we are definitely going to fight against the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar,” said a LJP leader.
If LJP exits from NDA, BJP is set to lose most as Chirag Paswan’s importance is going to only grow in Bihar’s politics given his political acumen and leadership skills.
BJP would be now forced to choose between Nitish Kumar- the old socialist who is not trustworthy, and Chirag Paswan- a knowledgeable and charismatic leader who believes in the leadership of PM Modi and wants to bring a real change in Bihar.
The father-son duo led party is the key NDA ally; it contested 6 seats out of 40 in the state in the 2019 general election, winning all of them. Chirag Paswan has emerged as one of the most popular youth leaders of the state, with appeal cutting across the caste lines, in a state which is entrenched in caste politics, while the neighboring UP opted for a change and voted for Hindutva.
For the last three decades, the state has been ruled by Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar- the two leaders who learnt politics from socialist icon Jayprakash Narayan, and emerged as poles of Bihar politics in the post-emergency era.
The state has witnessed three-decades-long povertarian socialist politics, which resulted in the state having the lowest per capita income in the country at 40,000 rupees annually- less than one-third of national average.
Bihar is looking for a change- and it would come from a new generation leader like Chirag Paswan (36) who grew up in a post-liberalisation India, and understands the modern political economy.
Given the high stakes involved in having Chirag Paswan, BJP should dump Nitish Kumar and project Paswan as Chief Ministerial candidate of the alliance in the upcoming assembly election. If BJP bets on Chirag Paswan and the alliance wins the 2020 election, Bihar, under the leadership of Paswan, might come out of the clutches of socialism and poverty in next few years.