There are no opinion polls on the upcoming Bihar elections yet except one. Thus, it’s really difficult to predict who will be the winner. Nitish Kumar is undoubtedly facing huge anti-incumbency. 15 years of rule is always susceptible to anti-incumbency. On the other hand, in the absence of Lalu Yadav, RJD doesn’t come across as a strong alternative. Tejaswi Yadav, although a young leader endorsed by UPA as a CM candidate, lacks the personality that can mobilise voters. I am of the opinion that the Muslim-Yadav combination is no more visible because many Yadav voters have already sided with BJP. Some Muslim voters are with AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen).
Despite the pandemic, Narendra Modi commands very high popularity. But then Bihar is among those states which vote differently for Parliamentary elections and assembly elections. The issue is with LJP (Lok Janshakti Party) which is bent on damaging JDU’s prospect while claiming that it’s with Narendra Modi. Many perhaps think that BJP is behind LJP’s rebellion. But whoever is acquainted with Bihar politics very well knows why LJP is against Nitish Kumar.
Since 2000, Nitish Kumar broke LJP multiple times. LJP joined NDA in 2014 when Nitish dumped BJP. After its success in the 2014 general election, LJP started rebuilding its party. But then Nitish Kumar joined BJP again to form the government where Nitish Kumar simply rejected the LJP and didn’t even give any ministry berth to LJP.
LJP knows that Nitish Kumar is bent on eliminating LJP from Bihar polity. BJP has the compulsion to ally with Nitish Kumar because it doesn’t have a credible CM candidate in Bihar especially in the presence of Sushil Modi. That’s why LJP remained ally with BJP at the centre and even claims to be an ally of BJP in Bihar but contest with JDU only. After the demise of Ram Vilas Paswan, the sympathy votes of at least the Paswan community will be with LJP thus set to damage JDU seriously. Thus, there are a lot of contradictions and uncertainness. In such a complicated scenario, I am trying to do an objective analysis as to what is going to happen in the coming election.
BJP’s core vote share is 24.69% (9308015 votes out of total votes of 37696978). The test case is the 2015 assembly election where BJP contested the election without JDU.
LJP’s vote share is technically 6.75% as the test case would be the 2010 assembly election where it contested alone. For JDU, the test case would be the 2014 general election which it contested alone and its core voter base was 15.40%. To understand the voter base of RJD and Congress, we need to look at the 2009 general election where RJD and Congress contested separately. Thus, RJD’s core vote share is 19.3% and Congress’s vote share is 10.3%.
With the above figures, let us try to find out NDA and UPA’s vote share. BJP and JDU’s combined core voter base is (24.69+15.40) 40.09 and another 3% can be added for the smaller parties like VIP and HAM so it has around 43% base votes. On the other hand, RJD and Congress had a base vote share of (19.3+10.3) 29.6%. Let’s add another 5% for smaller parties including the left parties. Thus, its base vote share amounts to 34.6%.
If you see the equation, then BJP and JDU look formidable to retain power. But then there’s the LJP factor in there. If the LJP vote base in JDU seats started voting selectively for UPA just to teach a lesson to Nitish Kumar, then NDA will lose around 6-7% vote share. As this deduction will be only in JDU contested areas, JDU will suffer a serious setback.
Most of the time, around 15% of floating votes which have no loyalty to any party, sometimes become very effective during anti-incumbency. They may wish Nitish Kumar to be the CM but will decide to reject the JDU MLA contesting the election. If such things happen, opponents, despite lack of credibility, many a time, get surprise victories. The recent Chhattisgarh and Tripura assembly election result prove this.
Thus, after a very careful observation of all data and facts, I feel (although I might be horribly wrong especially in the absence of any opinion poll), Nitish Kumar is going to lose the election. BJP could be the largest party but BJP and JDU combined may not get the majority. There could be many independent MLAs and if luck favours him, then Tejaswi Yadav could be the next CM of Bihar.
However, there is one caveat. The Narendra Modi factor can’t be overruled. He may able to get Nitish Kumar to retain power. But as I said, Bihar is politically very smart and votes differently in state and central election. I think that it would be very difficult even for Narendra Modi to make NDA sail beyond the halfway mark.
In politics, nothing is impossible and no analysis is ever perfect. But then I won’t be surprised if Bihar gets a CM who’s not Nitish Kumar.