Nitish Kumar vs Tejaswi Yadav: Understanding the politics of Bihar

Two intense battles are raging on ground these days…The first one on the cricket pitch in UAE and the other on the election grounds of Bihar.

In both these competitions, there’s a lot of anticipation and brouhaha. The results for both would come out on the 10th of November and none of us can wait, can we?

Now, surely, most of you may not be as interested in the politics of Bihar as much as you will be in the game of cricket.

However, keep this bit in mind: The “masterstrokes” of cricket might not make much of a difference in your life but the wicked “masterstrokes” of politics definitely will!

Plus, if you are from Bihar, better be ready to witness the change…remember the “free vaccine” if you vote you-know-who?

There’s an old saying: “Gaaon basa nahi aur lootere pehle aa gaye!”

Meaning that the Covid vaccine isn’t out yet, not even in the high and mighty continent of Europe, but it’s being distributed for free in Bihar, aka, “politicization!”

In much the same way, there aren’t a whole lot of factories in Bihar and yet “lakhs of jobs” have been promised already!

Anything for votes, eh?

Like every other time, the public is enjoying the attention they’re getting and which, by the way, they very much deserve! In India, however, the “netas” appear on the scene only once in the 5 years, hence, the people might not want to miss the opportunity to make their politicians beg for votes!

The candidates

Much like in IPL, there exist very many interesting players and “teams” in the Bihar elections of 2020.

  • The defending champion, the triple incumbent CM, Nitish Kumar and his party JDU. He has managed to keep the state trophy to himself by making use of the Chanakya Niti. Analysts believe that some of his techniques are not ethical, just like ball tempering in cricket. But the man knows how to stay in the game.
  • Next, the challenger team is the “laalten” party, infamous for having spread darkness in the state years ago, aka jungle raaj. But they’re rapidly gaining popularity among voters thanks to the young face of Tejaswi Yadav.
  • To make this tournament more interesting, there are many underdogs: First, the veteran Congress party, second is LJP, led by the “Chirag” of his family, third is the left, fourth is Jitan Ram Manjhi’s party. Then there are other “possible” underdogs including AIMIM and Plurals.

Now, in the era of mob mentality, why would someone fight the elections alone? So, in a display of strength in unity, the parties have all formed different alliances.

On one hand, there is NDA i.e. BJP+JDU+Hindustani Awam Morcha+Vikassheel Insaan Party (previously a more lethal combination including LJP, however, Chirag Paswan didn’t want JDU’s Nitish Kumar as CM candidate again, so he rebelled!)

Their competitor is the other alliance, the Grand Alliance aka Mahagathbandhan. It consists of our yesteryear winners: RJD, Congress and the Left parties.

These two will be in the fray but there are minnows also!

First, a new alliance by the name of Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) which consists of Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) and Chandrasekhar Azad’s Azad Samaj Party.

Second, there is a promising Plurals Party of Pusham Priya Choudhary, trying out their luck in 2020.

The Report Card

JDU’s election campaign slogan is “15 years vs 15 years”, that is, their own term of 15 years vs the 15 years of Jungle raaj, aka RJD rule.

But their time hasn’t been happy as well….Take unemployment, for example, the average unemployment in Bihar is more than the national average, even today. Plus, private investments are slipping away from the state just like the dreams of “acche din” from the hearts of Andh-bhakts!

Nitish Kumar says that his government has done wonders in the education field. But, according to 2018 report of ASER – Annual Status of Education Report – only 41% students in Bihar can read class 2 level books!

In the health sector, be it Covid reporting, doctor to people ratio or the health infra of the state, Bihar maintains its track record of “poor”. It does not budge at all and that takes some determination!

Along with that, Nitish Kumar government neither handled pollution, nor migrant crisis nor the annual flood problem of Bihar. So, the bitter truth is that despite coming out of the so-called jungle raj, Bihar is still in a pretty bad shape.

The contest

If opinion polls are to be believed, the NDA will manage a victory by securing 133-143 seats out of 243 seats.

(But opinion polls are just like bets in cricket…you never know…the odds can turn in anybody’s favor! Because, the ground reality says that this time will be a “close contest” in Bihar.)

The CSDS conducted a very interesting survey in 2019 that showed that people want an RJD government in Bihar but they want Nitish Kumar as the CM face. This obsession with JDU’s veteran is still a rather odd mystery!

Which is why, there’s a small group of experts who claim that JDU might be voted back to power, thanks to the “free vaccine” and “lakhs of jobs” jumla by their friend BJP. There’s also that TINA factor which might work in JDU’s favor.

Furthermore, there’s rock-solid support of the womenfolk that Nitish Kumar enjoys for putting a “ban” on the sale of liquor, because it has, to some extent, brought down the number of domestic violence cases in Bihar. So, JDU believes that women-folk are their silent force in this election.

In Bihar elections, caste also plays a major role, apart from development politics. In 2015, when JDU came along with a rising RJD, they consolidated the caste-based votes of one-another, hence the win then. On the other hand, there’s BJP whose focus has been to attract the upper caste vote of Bihar.

This time, while JDU wants to consolidate its hold on the non-Yadav votes. RJD -Congress alliance, on the other hand, has kept their eye on the Muslims and the Yadavs.

So, thanks to caste-based politics, you might come across a lot of people in Bihar that are going to lambast Nitish Kumar for not working well, but then again, they vote him to power!

Will the young voters (that are expected to be more this time) stay away from “caste-based-calculations” and choose a more promising pro-development party like the Plurals? The chances are slim.

Will Nitish Kumar, build upon his experience, and secure the “satta” of Bihar a fourth time? Some experts and opinion polls do seem to agree. Or will Tejaswi’s promise of a new “young” Bihar attract the voters to RJD? We find out on the 10th of November!

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