CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

ARTICLE


Will Swing Voters Make Bihar Elections a Closer Contest Than Anticipated?


With just ten days to go for the firstphase of the Bihar Assembly election, a closer contest than initially anticipated is on the cards. To many observers, the National Democratic Alliance seemed invincible just about a month ago, but that was until alliances were firmed up and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) decided to break ranks in the state.

The NDA might have the arithmetic going for it on account of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dominance among upper caste voters and the base among Kurmi, Koeri, Mahadalit and OBC voters of the JD(U). In the 2015 state Assembly election, the JD(U) bagged nearly 17% of votes, the BJP just over 24%, and the LJP 4.83%. What remains to be seen is whether these numbers, now on paper, would translate to actual votes. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has to contend with three-term anti-incumbency and latent public anger on account of the treatment meted out to the migrants returning to Bihar.

  A desperate Nitish Kumar’s efforts to invoke Lalu Prasad Yadav’s “Jungle Raj” from the past may not work for him with a large demographic of youth. As well, the RJD’s socialist moorings ensure there is ideological coherence and chemistry within the Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance. Notwithstanding that the numbers are not in its favour, there is a major possibility that this RJD-led alliance would stun poll pundits on counting day. With a large constituency of youth cutting across the urban and rural divide palpably angry with Nitish Kumar on account of the lack of jobs and opportunities, many additional segments beyond the traditional base of the Mahagathbandhan could vote for it.  

Before going any further, one needs to recall the election trends leading up to Bihar and, how poll outcomes in the Lok Sabha and Assembly have differed greatly even in a span of months. Anti-incumbency has been a decisive factor in many recent Assembly elections despite much ink spilled on the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Accordingly, Nitish Kumar’s popularity has seen a massive dip leading up to the polls and his contentions of being an efficient administrator too has suffered on account of his poor handling of the migrant exodus, floods and interventions or lack thereof on the Covid-19 front. His assiduously built-up image as “Susashan Babu” is being chipped away not only by the Opposition, but also his new-found rival in LJP’s Chirag Paswan, muddying the waters with his high-pitched rhetoric against the chief minister. City-bred Paswan might be raw and untested, but his “Bihar first, Bihari first” campaign hits all the right notes and he could also additionally reap some sympathy votes following the demise of Paswan senior.  

The LJP’s decision to contest separately was interpreted in two ways: the BJP gathered well in advance that there is a massive sentiment on the ground against Nitish Kumar. Fielding the LJP as its proxy would ensure there is a split in the anti-incumbency vote, thereby restricting the damage that the Grand Alliance could inflict on its prospects. That such a strategy might also help cut Nitish Kumar to size and possibly lead to a situation of installing its own chief minister was an added bonus. With the LJP fielding all its candidates against the JD(U) and not the BJP, such an outcome cannot be ruled out. However, there seems to be a late realisation within the BJP that this strategy could backfire if Paswan could swing the crucial Dalit votes away from the ruling alliance—which explains the BJP’s posturing in recent days.  

As for the Mahagathbandhan, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)’s logic of allocating 70 seats to a waning Congress and 29 seats to Left parties was called into question. It seems Tejashwi Yadav realised the futility of having many smaller caste-based parties in the alliance who may abandon ship at the first opportunity in a post-poll scenario. It is also doubtful whether leaders of caste parties—including Upendra Kushwaha and Mukesh Sahni—really command caste loyalty if one were to extrapolate results from the past. The Kushwaha (Koeri) have voted generally in tandem with the Kurmi social group, and the Nishad communities represented by Mukesh Sahni have traditionally voted for the BJP. While they might add incrementally to the BJP base, they do not command a loyal vote bank like a Ram Vilas Paswan did.  

Here it must be noted that the RJD, Congress and Left plus others got 18.35%, 6.6% plus roughly 7% of the votes. The RJD’s core vote bank being the Yadav-Muslim combine, having Congress in the alliance ensures there is no split in this vote base, apart from the possibility of the grand old party swinging some upper caste and Dalit votes towards the Grand Alliance. And the Left parties, despite being limited to pockets, have the capacity to transfer their votes, which is not often the case with caste-based outfits. The CPI (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, contesting in 19 seats, supposedly has the largest cadre on the ground apart from the RJD and the BJP and this manpower would be a huge asset to the alliance.  

There is also a “Third Front” in the fray with Upendra Kushwaha as its chief ministerial face, backed by AIMIM of Asaduddin Owaisi [0.21% vote share in 2015], the Bahujan Samaj Party [2.07%], Devendra Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Janata Dal Democratic (SJDD) [0.01%] among others. Whether AIMIM can make inroads into Bihar’s Seemanchal region at the expense of the Mahagathbandhan is a talking point. This third front could also cut into the OBC vote base of the JD(U), if at all this disparate combination can make an impact.  

Since there are so many factors at play, predicting the outcome would be quite impossible. One thing is certain: the post-poll phase of this election will be the most crucial. There is every chance that the Grand Alliance will do better than predictions. The swing voters should choose the RJD-led alliance as the alternative option.  

Nitish Kumar’s chief ministerial position would be a non-negotiable clause regardless of the final seat tally. Any attempts by the BJP to install its own chief minister could see major political realignments. It would not be beyond Nitish Kumar to discover his secular credentials in such a scenario.  

The author is an independent journalist and former editor, The Kochi Post. The views are personal.  

ARTICLE

  • The Taj That is India
  • The BJP and Triple Talaq
  • Rohingya: A People Condemned!
  • GLOBALISATION IS THE NEW COLONISATION
  • 9 Key Qs Raised on First Day of Aadhaar Hearing in the Supreme Court
  • A Critical Analysis of Delhi's Human Development Index
  • 3 Army Divisions For 300 Terrorists In JK But No End to Violence: Certainly the Answer Does Not Lie in Force
  • TWO CENTURIES OF BHIMA KOREGAON
  • 'It is Not the Left But the Congress That's the B-Team of the BJP'
  • Kasganj: A Story of People's Unity Fractured by Engineered Hate and Violence
  • Invisible Children Of Delhi
  • India 81 in Corruption Index, Amongst the "Worst Offenders"
  • Economists Hit Out Against Move to Privatise Public Sectors Banks
  • Tripura Trades Decency For False Eldorado
  • Syria's Bloody War
  • Pakistan And China Fill Space In Maldives Willfully Vacated By India
  • The Big Private Crop Insurance Scam: Farmers Par Premium of Rs 482, Receive Rs 5 as Insurance!
  • US Attack on Syria Violates International Law, Total Hypocrisy
  • Death Penalty Is Not The Answer To Sexual Violence: Implement Justice Verma Committee Report
  • Walls on Every Side: Trying to Get Data in India
  • The Ascent of Multi-Politics In Malaysia
  • Why the Objections to Marxism are Mistaken
  • The Rise and Fall of the Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim
  • BDS Has Placed Israel on Notice
  • CURTAIN RAISER: ELECTIONS IN PAKISTAN
  • Can We Promote Peace in India, Today?
  • Burying The Two-State Solution
  • Corruption And Class Rule
  • Is Ethnic Cleansing Coming to India
  • Our Real Heroes
  • Confronting Journalism's Misogynistic Trolls
  • ASSESSING THE RETURN OF AN UNLIMITED PRESIDENCY
  • After 17 Years of War, A Peace Movement Grows in Afghanistan
  • Taking Play Seriously: Time to Make Sports A Fundamental Right!
  • Law Commission Publishes Consultation Paper on Sedition
  • Foreign Policy: Between Folly and Foibles
  • Suu Kyi's Continued Denial And Bangladesh's
  • Economy Crumbles as Fuel Prices Skyrocket, Household Budgets Hit
  • Rupee's New Low: A Dangerous Drift
  • Are We Still Ruled by The British?
  • From Anti-National to Urban Naxal: The Trajectory of Dissent in India
  • Learning the Power of Lies: Facts vs. Falsehoods in the Age of Trump
  • The Indian Economy is in a Tailspin
  • China Walks a Tightrope on The Uighur Muslim Issue
  • Is Ram Mandir a Mere Election Strategy of the BJP?
  • The Harsher Counters of India's Drug Legislations
  • BJP's Election Strategy: Data is the New Opium
  • Geographical Indication - India's Untapped Resource
  • Climate Change to Make Prediction of Furious Storms More Difficult
  • Mountain echoes for India
  • Maldives: Has the Wheel Turned Full Circle?
  • President Sirisena Needs to be Reached Sooner Rather Than Later
  • Plastic Pollution in India
  • Prejudice by Any Name
  • 29 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Europe Has 1,000 Km of Walls to Stop Migrants
  • The Leftover Women of Afghanistan
  • Harmony of Music and Politics of Silencing
  • The Economics of Policy: Prohibition and Free Water Supply
  • Threat to Democracy in the Age of Social or Anti-Social Media
  • Intellectual Property- A Vital Discipline
  • What Happened in Britain, and What's Next
  • Assembly Debacle: BJP Got Taken in by Its Own Fake News
  • India: Secular Democracy or Hindu Rashtra
  • Adani is Byword for Government's Climate Inaction as Australia Gears for Elections
  • How The Modi Government is Killing Off MGNREGS
  • The Year of the Gazan
  • Assembly Polls: Ten Crucial Takeaways Ahead of 2019
  • The Real Effects of Fake Propaganda on Migrants
  • Why NGOs in Pakistan Are at The Brink of Extinction
  • Dogged by Brexit
  • In My Own Voice: Citizenship Amendment Bill And You
  • Oil Giant Shell Finally Faces Its Day In Court For Complicity In Rapes And Murders in Nigeria
  • The Geopolitics of Pulwama
  • Shah Faesal Cuts Through Calls for Blood and Lays Out a Roadmap for Kashmir
  • Modi's ABC: Avoiding, Burying, Confusing
  • The Kashmir Question: A 'Made in India' Problem
  • Opposition Must Take a Stand Against the War Politics of Hindutva
  • 'Patriotism' Made Easy in Times of 'WhatsApp Elections'
  • Urban Poor Have Set Agenda for 2019 Elections
  • Will the US End Up Putting Sanctions on Every Country That Doesn't Bend to its Will?
  • Minority and Indigenous Women Human Rights Activists More Prone to Harassment UN Report
  • Tribute to Speaker Rabi Ray (1926-2017)
  • International Participation is Necessary Where State is Part of The Problem
  • Italy Takes Belt and Road to The Heart of Europe
  • The Legacy of Shaheed-e-Azam
  • In My Own Voice: Heroes or Hiroshima
  • The Modi Years
  • Election in Israel: A Race to the Bottom
  • Why Bangladesh Overtook Pakistan
  • Digital Monopoly Platforms, Modi Regime and Threat to Our Democracy
  • Elitism and Development
  • Jawaharlal Nehru and Organised Religion
  • A Brief History of the IUML and Kerla's Muslims
  • The Immunisation of Human Rights
  • How Can India Win The Struggle on Poverty?
  • The RSS's Chanakya Neeti
  • Diversity, Belonging and Multiculturalism
  • The Chinese Ambition
  • The Role City Govts Can Play in the Health of Citizens
  • Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew: Forgotten Warrior of Our Freedom Movement
  • Fighting Climate Change, Building Resilience
  • Mridula Sarabhai(the orignal anti-national)
  • Right to Education: A Dream Half Forgotten
  • Decoding One Nation One Poll
  • Tunisia Heads for Polls Amidst Economic Slowdown, Squsbbling and Crack Down on Islamic Extremist
  • Lynchings, Litchis and No Water: What the International Media is Saying Abount India
  • Blood in the Nile
  • Will the BNP Ever Again be a Major Political Force in Bangladesh?
  • 'Real Estate Brokers' Cannot Dampen The Palestinian Spirit
  • The Indian Liberal's Conundrum
  • Hope For Democracy in Sudan
  • In Depth: Water Crisis Looming Across Tamil Nadu
  • Missing Secularism in New Education Policy
  • Religion, Nationalism And Insurgency in Balochistan
  • Dim Lights, Closed Blinds: History Lessons From a Party in Power
  • Loan Waivers Need Better Designing to Prevent Farmer Suicides
  • Makimg Best Use of Sri Lanka's Strategic Location
  • FDI in Coal: Look Who's Coming to the Party
  • Weapons and the Never Ending Space Race
  • Thirty Years the Berlin Wall Brought Down
  • Reclaiming the Opposition and Political Space in India
  • An Interreligious Conference to Build Bridges in Sri Lanka
  • On 'Correcting' History and Akbar's Invasion of Kashmir
  • The Evolution of the 'Nobel Prize' in Economics
  • Close Coordination Between Turkey and Russia in Syria
  • Sri Lanka's Election Time Promises Costly to Keep
  • The India Economy and The Cobra Effect
  • Fascism: Is Liberal Use "Trivialising" This "Destructive Phenomenon?"
  • Treating the Poor as Development Guinea Pigs
  • A Not sp 'National Education Policy: Analysis Reveals Exclusion in Education Sector
  • University Fee Hikes Pave the Way for Selling Public Assets
  • The Truth About Middle Class 'Revolutions?
  • 50 Years of US Arms Trade: The Lasting Impact on West Asia
  • India Abjures Secularism in Bangladesh's View, Will Regional Cooperation Take a Hit?
  • Amidist Resistance to "De-Tribalisation", A Look at Why Jharkhand Polls are More Critical Than They Appear
  • The Dangerous Game of Citizenship: BJP Creates Divisive Agenda Through NRC
  • Revealed: US Losing Aghan War Due to "Fatally Flawed" War Strategies and Lack of Clear Objetives
  • 'Politics and Prejudice': Can Dalit-Bahujans and left Progressives Join Hands?
  • State Power's Attempts at Rewriting History
  • Afghanista's Tumultous Fourty-Year Journey
  • Nepal: Citizen's Needs Remain Sidelined as Turbulent Game of Politics Continues
  • "Enough is Enough": Secular India Revolts Against a " Majoritarian State"
  • Looking at Cuba's Revolution 61 Years On
  • Soleimani Murder Set to Spiral Out of Control, US Expected to Pressure India Under LEMOA
  • The Rise of Digital Media and The Viral Phenomenon of "Nowledge"
  • Thus Spake JP: Beware the Writing on the Wall
  • Sri Lankan Government Must Pay Attention to Problem-Solving in the North
  • Drowning Nation Clutches at Military Might?
  • India's Neighbourhood First Policy Crumbles
  • A Gobal Assault by the Far-Right
  • Delhi Riots: Historical Patterns, Complicity of Forces Point to Planned Violence
  • Behind The Protests Defending Public Education
  • Putting The Judiciary on Trial
  • "Sanctions Are a Crime": During Coronavirus Pandemic, Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela Causing Medical Shortages
  • Social Messiahs or Smart Entrepreneurs?
  • Justice Gogoi Joining Rajya Sabha Points to a Constitutional Crisis
  • A Russian "Plays Long Game" Firewall for Venezuela Against US Sanctions
  • RSS and the Question of Morality
  • Establishing COVID-19 Hospitals in Record Time
  • A New "Medical Internationalism" Needed: Cuba At the Pandemic Frontlines Even As Wealthy States Neglect Healthcare
  • Why They Suffer: The Human/Animal Conflict
  • More Books and Snowy Mornings
  • Statesmanship Required to Avert Constitutinal Crisis in Sri Lanka
  • Combating 'Hate Virus': Communal Forces Divide in times of Global Pandemin
  • How Biometric Authentication Has Excluded MAny From The Public Distribution System
  • Lessons From Iraq: Before Trump Sues China, US Must pay for Unjust War on Iraq
  • The American War System And The Global 'War of Error'
  • Demilitarising Patriotism in The Covid Fight
  • Muslims Need a Fair Media
  • Sri-Lanka: Shock of Covid-19 Wanes, Nationalist Sentiments Rise as Elections Approach
  • Covid-19 in Brazil: A 21st Century 'Reenactment' of the 19th Century Yellow Fever?
  • Iran's Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Sail to Safety Under 'Chinese Shield'
  • US Protests Bear Lessons For Sri Lanka
  • India and Nepal in For A Prolonged Standoff?
  • The Fifth Schedule: Tribal Advisory Councils and International Perspectives
  • The Asian American Response to Pandemic-Era Racism Must Be Cross-Racial Solidarity
  • Is Police Brutality Exclusive to the USA?
  • Libya's Future Seema to Rest on Arrangements Between Russia And Turkey
  • China's strategic Mind And Method: "Long-Term Planning" Behind Country's Geo-Political Moves
  • Returning Migrants: A Boon For Rural Industrialisation?
  • Why Refugees in Greece Are Afraid of the Word 'Camp'''
  • Black Lives Matter Movement And Its Lessons For India
  • US Provocations Trigger Tension in Sino-American Relations
  • Inclusive Representation Required In Sri Lanka's Decision-Making Bodies
  • Humanists At Risk: Demonising Dissent, Infantilising Society
  • Putin Anticipates 'Cascading Tension', Hints At Need To Rest World Order
  • Why the Neoliberal Agenda Is a Failure at Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
  • Covid-19 Underscores Importance of Local Planning
  • BRI Drive Post-Covid-19 Global Economic Recovery', Claims China
  • Are We Mainstreaming or Simply Trivialising Biodiversity?
  • Is Iran's Influence in Iraq Waning?
  • Green Economic Recovery: A Firm Commitment Required
  • Ease Of Doing Business VS Human Development
  • Provincial Councils The Best Option For A Peaceful Sri Lanka?
  • Revisiting the GDP Paradox
  • Coverange of Ayodhya Sparked "Convenient Collective Amnesia"
  • Prashant Bhushan And The Case of Contempt: "An Example of How Not to Write A Judgment"
  • Strengthening the Capacity of Gram Sabhas
  • Far Right Authoritarian Leaders Have Intensified The Pandemic in Their Countries
  • Congress And The Hindutva Campaign: "The Middle Path is Fast-Disappearing"
  • Trump Faces Backlash at Attempts to Suppress Mail-In Voting
  • Meeting the Covid Challenge to Define Our Nationhood
  • Capitalism's Political Problem: In Constant Conflict With Democracy
  • Anti-CAA Movement: How The 'OutSider' Discourse Dismisses Dissent
  • Centre Shirks Responsibility, "Abandons States" For Political Gain
  • Healing the Health System
  • Emerging Challenges for the International Labour Organisation
  • After Ayodhya, Kashi-Mathura On Temple Politics Agenda?
  • Unlike Today's Farm Bills, Even Britishers' Champaran Agrarian Bill Underwent Legislative Scrutiny
  • Science in Industry and the Academy
  • The US Supreme Court Has Never Been Liberal
  • Coronavirus Pandemic and Recessions: Disastrous for 'White Collar' Jobs
  • What Does Justice Mean Today?
  • Bihar's Political Ennui Can Only be Overcome by the Left
  • Gender Budget: Kerala Leads the Way, The Centre Should Follow
  • The Fight for Right to Information
  • Will Swing Voters Make Bihar Elections a Closer Contest Than Anticipated?
  • AMY Coney Barrett Sworn in as us Supreme Court Judge: Major Victory For the Right Wing
  • Thailand Protests - Youth Demand Greater Democratic Freedom
  • Unemployment a Key Issue in Bihar Elections
  • Capitalists Hungry For Land in Developing Countries Are a Threat to Indigenous Communities
  • Signals From Bihar: BJP and Left 'Sure Winners', Congress 'Neither Here Nor There'
  • Trump Lost But May Continue to Wield His Weapons of Destructions
  • Healing Divisions Post Election is The Challenge
  • 8 'Fruitless' Talks Later: XI Refuses to Budge, Modi in 'No Mood to Ruffle Feathers'
  • A Biden Presidency Hails The Return of The 'Ancien Regime'
  • Locating Nehru's Place In History
  • Why The BJP Has Shifted Focus From 'Congress Mukt Bharat' To Regional Parties
  • As People's Distress Grows, BJP Government is Busy Else where
  • The West Asia Trump Leaves Behind
  • Ambedkar's Vision Stands In Agonising Contrast to the Babri Masjid Demolition
  • Diversity in Nation Building: Recognising the Role of The Minority
  • Farmers Turn the Spotlights on Big Business
  • America's Vaccine Paranoia
  • Afghanistan: Despite US-Taliban Agreements, Peace Remains Elusive
  • ‘MOVE UP OR MOVE OUT’: THE ENTRY OF CORPORATES WILL RENDER THE SMALL FARMERS DEFENSELESS
  • DESPITE DIFFERENCES, AGRICULTURAL WORKERS RESIST NEW LAWS WITH FARMERS
  • JUDGES’ LAPSES
  • ONLINE VIOLENCE GROWS AGAINST WOMEN JOURNALISTS
  • THE YEAR THAT WAS: PEOPLE’S RESISTANCE BUILDS AGAINST HOSTILE GOVERNMENT
  • Kisan Protests Are More About Survival of the Peasantry
  • CENTRAL VISTA PROJECT: “CIRCUS AND THEATRE” IN LIEU OF “BREAD AND JOBS”?
  • FARM LAWS WILL LEAD TO RISE OF NEW ‘MIDDLEMAN’ - THE CEOS OF THE OLIGARCHY
  • REPUBLICANS MUST GET IN LINE, THEY CREATED THIS MONSTER
  • Kamalji - Goodbye My Friend!
  • Condolence Message for Mr Kamal Morarka
  • Global dynamics in 2021
  • Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan: Muslims for Composite Indian Nationalism
  • Rajapaksas Regime Under Multiple Pressures
  • Coup Attempt in Jordan Leaves a Trail
  • What Kind of Political Candidates Did Gandhi Hope Voters Would Support?
  • Are Indian Students Losing Out on Past History as Textbooks are Being Changed?
  • FINANCING THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING
  • Hamas Emerges as the Charioteer of the Palestinian Resistance Against Israel
  • CHILE’S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY CAN REMOVE CAPITALIST EQUATIONS
  • TURKEY DELIBERATELY DOWNED A RUSSIAN JET IN 2015, COURT TESTIMONY REVEALS
  • THE BATTERING OF RELIGION-BASED POLITICS IN WEST BENGAL
  • GOVERNMENTS MUST UNDO BIG PHARMA GRIP OVER VACCINES
  • BRAHMANIC NATIONALISM AND THE CASTE HIERARCHY
  • OVERCONSUMPTION IS THE PROBLEM ‘NET ZERO’ CANNOT SOLVE
  • WILL TRUMP'S WARS BECOME BIDEN'S WARS?
  • Each City Has its Unique Fingerprint of Microorganisms: Global Study
  • POSSIBILITY OF POST-NEOLIBERALISM IN PERU
  • Pandemic, Joblessness, Falling Incomes and Now a Crushing Price Rise
  • Voting for Restoration of Democracy: Electoral Choices
  •