Delhi Elections and Bihar

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Delhi has dealt a cruel blow to the euphoria in BJP. The reasons will be analysed from various angles and perspectives. But how does this affect Bihar?

Bihar goes to assembly polls in November-December as per schedule. But the recent crisis precipitated by Manjhi–Nitish–Sharad has changed the situation. As dissolution of the assembly seemed imminent, the Delhi exit polls and then the results changed the whole situation.

It was refreshing to hear Manjhi talk straight. He exposed how he was asked by Sharad Yadav to step down and propose Nitish’s name for CM. But Manjhi refused. The news coming out till then was only speculation, later papered over by the usual “there is no change in leadership….” comments by JD-U. But Manjhi in his inimitable style revealed all and earned a prompt expulsion from the party.

BJP played ball, showing tacit support to Manjhi. Looking for a chance to humiliate Nitish, who had dumped them before LS polls, BJP smelt an opportunity. However, the Delhi results have thrown a spanner in their works.

Riding on a wave of popularity since the LS polls, with Modi as a mascot and mass leader, it was good going for BJP till the J&K assembly elections. People believed the tall talk of development and anti corruption. But the ground situation in last nine months has left a lot to be desired. The common man sees no change. Whatever developments they see are taking place in favour of corporates and on foreign policy. These may have long term results benefitting the common man. But today’s generation wants instant results. They don’t want to wait for 5 years to see the promised transformation. They want to see improvement in their life – jobs, bijli, sadak, pani and end to corruption. Modi’s speeches are becoming repetitive and his style is no more interesting. Probably the promises made by BJP were not well explained to the public with time lines and now they are boomeranging.

Obviously, the Delhi voter did not buy the development mantra of Modi and BJP. The fringe elements in BJP have overshadowed the agenda with their fanatic rhetoric. Modi is silent on this. It reminds one of his continued silence on Gujarat riots. There was polarization in Delhi, not along religious or caste lines, but along class lines. The disenchanted lower, lower-middle classes and the youth went with AAP.

Now, how is this going to affect Bihar? For one, I don’t think Manjhi will last. Nitish, despite his opportunistic and casteist moves, has got the numbers. The majority of MLAs don’t want to lose nine more months of privilege. BJP may not take the risk of propping up Manjhi as it will further damage their image. With the drubbing in Delhi, BJP may need some time to introspect, reorganize and plan their moves in Bihar. The formula of Modi-Shah, whatever it was, has probably lost its relevance. So, we may have a coalition government headed by Nitish to see the end of the present assembly term.

The big question is what happens after that? Will the Janata family merger take shape? Even if it does, how long will it last? These questions will be answered in the coming months.

My take is that BJP will suffer some setback in Bihar in the coming assembly elections. They may just manage to maintain their numbers or go a little below. Nitish-Lalu will come to power, if they keep their big egos in check. Sources in AAP indicate that they intend to fight 15 – 20 seats in Bihar. Depending upon their performance in Delhi, they may turn out to be the king makers in Bihar. The aspirational voter, as they say, is beyond caste and religion. In spite of the caste ridden politics of Bihar, the next elections will see different factors in play. Modi has raised the expectations of the electorate and now they are hooked to development. It may be an irony, but ultimately Modi and BJP may pay for not providing it.

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