- In Bochaha bypolls, BJP has suffered a massive jolt as it lost to RJD by huge margins
- BJP taking Bhumihars and other vote banks for granted will cost it immensely
- BJP should start strengthening its core vote bank, otherwise it is in for a rude shock in the next assembly elections
No matter how big or small an election is, it always has a message for the parties contesting it. The same holds true for recently held bypolls in Bochaha the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. If BJP fails to read the underlying message, then it is up for a rude shock in the next assembly elections in state.
Recently, Bochahan Vidhansabha Constituency went for a bypoll. The seat was vacated due to the death of a sitting Member of Legislative Assembly called Musafir Paswan. Musafir belonged to Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), an ally of the NDA government in Bihar. However, after the death of Musafir Paswan, cracks started to emerge in the coalition.
While the sitting MLAs of VIP decided to join BJP, the nationalist party felt confident in fielding its own candidate in an imminent bypoll. It went ahead with Baby Kumari, former State Vice President of BJP Bihar. Meanwhile, political equations made it possible for Tejaswi Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to make a foray into the election. In place of his father, Amar Paswan wanted to contest the election, but he was not considered for the same. So, he decided to join RJD. Meanwhile, VIP decided to rope in Geeta Kumari, daughter of former Bochaha MLA Ramai Ram.
BJP lost with big margins
BJP was confident that it will be able to nail the constituency with ever supportive strong Bhumihar vote bank. Bochaha has over 55,000 Bhumihar voters. It relied on Nitish Kumar’s JDU for bringing rest of the voting groups under its fold. JDU commands strong legitimacy among numerically significant Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs), Maha Dalits and Kurmi and Kushwaha castes.
Results were shocking for the BJP. Amar Paswan emerged victorious with 36,673 votes. He got 82,562 votes, while only 45,909 Bochahites decided to vote for BJP candidate Baby Kumari.
It was extremely shocking for BJP, but those who were well-versed with local politics already knew about the writing on the wall. Apparently, according to an Indian Express report, not taking their established vote banks seriously harmed BJP.
Bhumihars are not happy with BJP
Bhumihars have been consistent voters of BJP. After all, it was the only party which made them believe that they were with them in kith and kin. But, this time, the tables have turned. Tejaswi Yadav’s party was able to dissuade 20-25 percent of Bochaha’s Bhumihars away from BJP. It is pertinent to note that his father’s supporters’ slogan during Jungle Raaj consisted of phrases like ‘Wipe out Bhumihars’
Not just in one constituency, BJP seems to be losing support of Bhumihar in the whole of Muzaffarpur. BJP’s cadre were disappointed when Suresh Sharma, probably the most influential Bhumihar face of BJP in Muzaffarpur decided to stay away from campaigning in Bochaha. Sharma is not happy with BJP preferring Ramsurat Rai over him. His loss in 2020 election is also a big dividing line between him and BJP.
BJP losing ground among the Bhumihar community is not limited to Muzaffarpur. Bhumihar Samaj is experimenting with new leaders who now want to do away with the legacy of Bhumihars sticking with BJP. Leaders like Ashutosh Kumar, president of Rashtriya Jan Jan Party (RJJP) are constantly wining and dining with leaders standing in opposition with BJP.
BJP is losing its ground
Bochaha election is also significant as BJP realised that it cannot bank on Nitish’ voter base. In spite of having JDU and EBC Sahani/ Nishad leaders, such as Muzaffarpur MP Ajay Nishad on its side, BJP did not get enough votes to make its candidate victorious. To summarise it succinctly, BJP is losing not just its own voters’ base, .i.e. Bhumihars, but it is also effecting a chunk in its ally’s (JDU) voter base.
Bihar is emerging as a centre stage of tripartite fight. While, RJD is strengthening its position in state, BJP is losing ground due to not having a face readily acceptable in state. It would be better if BJP first secures its diverting vote bank, and then go on to conquer more as assembly elections are still a long way to go.