As Bihar goes to polls, BJP has carefully started distancing itself from the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The party has kept Nitish Kumar out of its posters which have a life-size picture of Prime Minister Modi. It looks like the party is banking on the popularity of the Prime Minister as the posters read, “Jisne ghar-ghar bijli pahuchai, wahi naye rojgar bhi dilayega,” (Prime Minister completed the electrification of the household and only he can provide jobs to people).
The candidates of JD(U) are also banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Modi as most of the party posters have Modi before Nitish Kumar in the picture.
Also, most of the BJP leaders, while campaigning, mentioned the achievements of the Union government instead of the Nitish Kumar led Bihar government. Prime Minister Modi himself mentioned Nitish Kumar only in the last 15 seconds of his hour-long speech and only counted the achievements of his government.
The state BJP leadership, very cleverly, has not announced any CM candidate from its side. Clearly, BJP is putting Prime Minister Modi to bat in front and not Nitish Kumar–who was announced as CM candidate if the alliance comes to power–in the posters.
Many BJP leaders including Youth wing President Tejasvi Surya have openly praised Chirag Paswan, who has announced that his MLAs will support a BJP CM in the state. No one knows better than Nitish Kumar that alliances in politics are temporary and promises made by politicians are of little value. If BJP wins enough seats to form a government with Chirag Paswan’s LJP, the party would definitely dump JD(U). Even if JD(U) remains part of the alliance, Kumar would not be the CM candidate.
Given the prevailing anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar and the kind of candidates the party has chosen, a good performance is very unlikely. JD(U) is contesting on 115 seats and almost on every seat, LJP has fielded its candidates and the party leader, Chirag Paswan, has told the voters to vote for LJP because he will support a BJP CM instead of Nitish Kumar’s fourth term.
Chirag has positioned himself as a young, energetic and dynamic alternative to Nitish’s old school secular politics, and gels perfectly with BJP’s brand of politics unlike the three-term CM of the state.
“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.
For the last three decades, the state has been ruled by Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar- the two leaders who learnt politics from the 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, which is less than one-third of the national average.
Being true to his socialist credentials, Nitish Kumar jumps to excuses like unavailability of the seacoast to blame for the poverty of Bihar. The three decades of misgovernance, socialism, and corruption of his and his predecessor Lalu Yadav does not find a place among the reasons for poverty of the state.
Today Bihar is at the bottom of almost every socio-economic indicator from being the richest region of the country historically, and the reason behind that is politicians like Lalu Yadav and Nitish Kumar. Therefore, the Bihari voters want to get rid of Kumar as soon as possible, because, they do not want to see another 5 years of povertarian politics in Bihar. And BJP is already signalling in that direction to woo the voters.