The Bihar election has always been the pinnacle of the Indian electorate system where all the poll predictions and prophecies more often than not go for a toss, as the state continues to vote on the lines of caste and religion, 2015 Assembly election results being a case on point. However, the 2020 assembly election is seeing a different battleground where old guards like RJD’s Lalu Yadav and JDU’s Nitish Kumar are at the wane of their powers, and thus BJP for the first time, since the turn of the millennium, is in with a chance to gain a sizeable lead in the polls. The emergence of several small parties like AIMIM and its alliances has played right into the hands of Amit Shah and his tactics.
BJP, the party which is known for its dedicated cadre and popular leader-driven politics, is playing a very shrewd coalition game in the state of Bihar. As LJP exits from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and has decided to place candidates on all the seats which JD(U) is fighting, the BJP has transferred some of its best leaders to LJP.
Senior BJP leader Usha Vidyarthi joined the LJP in New Delhi on Wednesday. Prior to this another BJP stalwart Rajendra Singh had joined LJP on Tuesday. Singh, in the 2015 general elections, was one of the strongest probable candidates for the chief ministerial post in Bihar. By shifting some strong candidates to LJP, BJP is cunningly looking to cut the votes of JDU.
In the seat break-up, it was decided that BJP will contest on 121 seats while JD(U) and Jitanram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) would contest on the rest of 122 seats. The total number of seats that JD(U) will fight is already lower than BJP because Nitish Kumar has to accommodate HAM, too. And even on the seats that JD(U) is fighting, it will field its own candidates who have now joined LJP.
Chirag Paswan has held back no punches when it has come to cornering JDU and Nitish Kumar. He has constantly brought up the issue of the murder of Dalits in the last 15 years in the state and how the current regime hasn’t been able to provide jobs to the kin of the murdered. While JDU has brought Jitan Ram Manjhi to cover its Dalit base, Chirag Paswan has been steadily filling the deficit.
Yadavs, who are 14 per cent of Bihar’s population and who have backed Lalu Prasad Yadav since 1990 along with Muslims, constitute the core support base of the RJD. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Lalu’s monopoly of the Yadav vote was challenged, with the BJP gaining sizeable support, particularly among younger members of the community.
Fast forward 2020, the emergence of AIMIM and its allies is all set to erode the Muslim vote bank of RJD, whose new leadership in the form of Tejashwi Yadav hasn’t inspired much confidence amongst the masses.
Asaduddin Owaisi led AIMIM, which the self-attested secular parties call B-team of BJP, has stepped into Bihar assembly election to disturb the equations of a secular alliance. AIMIM had won the assembly seat of Kishanganj with 10,000 votes in the last by-election, pushing Congress to third position. And, this time his party is coming more strongly, in alliance with many smaller outfits.
Owaisi on Thursday entered in a new alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the elections and consequently warning bells have been sent ringing for RJD and Congress.
RLSP chief and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha has been nominated as the Chief Minister candidate by the new alliance. Kushwaha formed the new political front after his talks with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the Leader of Opposition, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, on seat-sharing failed to bear fruit.
A key member of Owaisi’s United Democratic Secular alliance (UDSA) is also former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav, a four-time MP from Jhanjharpur in the Mithilanchal region. He will be looking to cut back JDU’s Yadav votes in the state.
Even if Owaisi can not make a significant mark as far as the number of seats is concerned, he can surely prove crucial in making the RJD-Congress alliance lose badly, given the fact that his party would bifurcate the Muslim votes which till now went to the Congress or Lalu’s party. Especially in the Seemanchal region, where the Muslims are in majority in many pockets, Owaisi can ensure NDA’s victory by division in the Muslim votes.It is well and truly possible that if AIMIM and alliance somehow muster even 3-4 seats in the region, it could have a decisive say in who forms the government in the state, amidst a triangular competition.
The Hindi heartland of Bihar is set to see some vicious fighting in the coming months as the political landscape gets more and more charged. From the breakup of LJP and NDA, the formation of AIMIM and co. to LJP cutting votes of JDU, there is a pandemonium of activities happening all at once in the state. Meanwhile, BJP is all set to benefit from the aforementioned permutations and combinations and Amit Shah will once again be the game-changer who manufactured a contest in the state which looked certain to land in the lap of ‘Sushasan Babu’