Phase 2 of the Bihar elections are slated to be held tomorrow and with a meager voter turnout which couldn’t eclipse the 2015 record, chances of the NDA alliance holding its ground are promising. Usually, when there is a high voter turnout in an election, it is automatically attributed to an impending change in the regime but with none of that happening, the rhetorics of RJD and Tejashwi Yadav are seemingly falling flat. However, the upshot of this article is not the final result of the polls but rather what essential factors could decide the final poll count. And one of the biggest factors that could decide the fate of the Assembly election is the current dilemma facing the BJP voters.
JDU is fighting on 122-odd seats out of the 243 seat assembly in Bihar, whereas, BJP is plying its trade on 121 seats. However, JDU’s seat share has dipped lower than that of BJP as Nitish Kumar has had to gift 7 seats to accommodate his partner Jeetan Ram Manjhi and his Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), which Kumar has assimilated into his party solely to woo the Mahadalit voters.
On the other hand, LJP, the former NDA ally, is precisely fighting on those seats where JDU candidates are in the fray. LJP President Chirag Paswan and his party is fighting on a total of 143 seats and he had long ago announced that his party wouldn’t contest on a single seat where BJP was contesting.
However, with LJP out of the NDA-fold and still pledging its allegiances to BJP might have confused the voters. The confusion has further been aggravated by BJP’s mixed signals on where its real obligations lie. While big BJP leaders, respecting the coalition are terming Nitish as the next CM candidate but the on-ground situation depicts a different picture altogether.
BJP has methodically kept Nitish Kumar out of its posters which have a life-size picture of Prime Minister Modi, further proving the assumption that Nitish Kumar is more of an after-thought for the party. Also, most of the BJP leaders, while campaigning, mentioned the achievements of the Modi government instead of the Nitish Kumar led Bihar government in Bihar. PM Modi himself has barely mentioned Nitish Kumar in his speeches and rather focused on counting the achievements of his government.
In the meantime, some of BJP’s best leaders have also transferred to the LJP to fight against JDU. Senior BJP leaders like Usha Vidyarthi and Rajendra Singh were rather conveniently ferried to the LJP boat and it was certainly believed that it was a ploy of BJP to strengthen LJP against JDU.
With a pandemonium of activities by BJP advertently or inadvertently hinting that the party is cozying up to Chirag Paswan and LJP, the voters seem to have been caught in a fix in Bihar. Whether they vote for LJP or JDU seems to be the big question.
There is no iota of doubt that LJP is cutting into the votes of JDU due to Chirag’s increased popularity but the real question begets—can LJP’s strike rate be consistent with the vote share and can Chirag convert those votes into the actual seats?
Updated numbers after 3 days of intel gathering in Bihar.
BJP will win ~90 seats
LJP ~ 20 seats
JDU ~25 seats (vote-cutting by LJP)
RJD ~35 seats
INC ~ 15 seats
A “laachaar” BJP will agree to LJP’s demands of a BJP CM. JDU will be a junior partner in NDA govt. https://t.co/e05npWMUYy
— Atul Mishra (@TheAtulMishra) October 29, 2020
If BJP can win 80-90 seats out of 121 it is contesting, and LJP wins 25-35 seats out of 143 it has decided to contest, they can form the government on their own without any support from Nitish Kumar’s party. Even if the alliance needs a few MLAs to form the government, the leaders in JD(U) camp would be more than willing to support a BJP CM as many of them themselves do not like Nitish Kumar who is stuck with CM chair for the last one and a half decades and is not giving chance to young leaders to come forward in the hierarchy.
This is the ideal case scenario where the saffron-party can fulfill its long-awaited dream of having a BJP CM but for this scenario to pan out in reality, the voters will have to vote en masse for LJP on the seats JDU is contesting.
From the breakup of LJP with NDA, the formation of AIMIM, and co. to LJP cutting votes of JDU, there is a bedlam of activities happening all at once in the state. So, can the layman voter of Bihar understand these backdoor tactics where BJP is allegedly gunning for a post-poll alliance with LJP? Who to vote for? That’s the question and that’s the dilemma and it shall decide the fate of the whole election in Bihar.