Race to power heats up between NDA and Mahagathbandhan in Bihar

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The 243-member Bihar assembly election was held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7. In what could be termed as the biggest election battle of the year, after much anticipation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bihar Election results will be crucial. Northeast Today reports

The Bihar assembly election is crucial for both the two key national parties – Congress and BJP, both the parties have put their full effort into the electoral battlefield in the state of Bihar.

“The BJP has not been able to get much of an election success post the 2019 Lok Sabha election. It couldn’t hold onto power in Maharashtra, lost Jharkhand and faced a crushing defeat in Delhi against the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party. The only consolation was Haryana- but even there the BJP had to make a post alliance with the JJP to form the government,” said a BJP leader who is among the group of leaders overseeing the election process in the state.

“Hence, this is a battle which the BJP can’t afford to lose and so has gone all guns blazing into the polls. Though the BJP is a junior partner in the NDA alliance in Bihar, which is a JDU-BJP alliance, BJP has a lot of stake in the election and the Prime Minister himself addressed several election rallies in the state,” said the BJP leader.

The JDU-BJP alliance came to power in Bihar in 2005 and again won in 2009 and both the times Nitish Kumar was elected as the Chief Minister. But in 2015 JDU contested in an alliance with the RJD and came to power, but on 26 July 2017, he resigned after breaking away from RJD and again was sworn in as the chief minister the very next day with support from the BJP.

“Thus only between 2013 to August 2017 he (Nitish Kumar) was not in an alliance with the BJP, but he continued to be the CM,” said Sabita Devi, a journalist and analyst.

Apart from battling 15-year anti-incumbency, the Nitish Kumar government is facing several crises and a resurgent opposition- the young and aggressive Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has been running a focused and calculated electoral campaign in the state.

“Winning an election after being in office for three consecutive terms (15 years) is anyway not easy, and with the Covid pandemic this year- which has led to the migrant and job crisis, things have got very difficult for the incumbent government,” said a senior BJP leader.

But it is also being felt that the BJP will be the biggest gainer from the Bihar election, and post the election results- the state could have a BJP Chief Minister.

“BJP has cleverly turned the Bihar election into a ‘Nitish versus All’ battle, with Nitish K being attacked by all, and with the LJP cutting into the JDU votes, JDU is almost confirmed, to get fewer seats than BJP. BJP is clear it will get more seats than JDU and also knows BJP + JDU will not get the required majority,” said Devi.

“If this happens, the battle will be very interesting- LJP could offer support (conditional) and say he is willing to support if the CM is from BJP. So two likely scenario- JDU forms govt with RJD+ (If RJD accepts and Nitish continue as CM) and also if this alliance gets required numbers, and second could be Bihar sees a BJP CM,” added Devi.

However, though the RJD is on the upswing, there is a fear regarding how much the Congress party will improve from the last election tally in this high stake electoral battle.

“BJP’s tally will improve from the 2015 election, and JDU is on a tight spot, but RJD is expected to do very well, but without a good performance by the RJD coalition partners it will be difficult for the alliance to cross the half way mark,” said Devi.

The polling for the 243-member Bihar assembly elections was held in three phases on October 28, November 3 and November 7. The voting for the first phase on October 28 covers 71 assembly constituencies, while the second phase voting on November 3 covers 94 seats. The third phase of voting on November 7 covers 78 assembly seats.


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