By Badri Narayan
What I gathered was that people seemed willing to put faith in the RJD and a possible mahagathbandhan in the 2019 election. During the time of my fieldwork, the mahagathbandhan in Bihar had yet not been stitched up. But people were still saying: ‘Mahagathbandhan achha karegi (the mahagthbandhan will perform well)’. This shows that voters had visualised a mahagthbandhan-versus-NDA face-off in their heads even before the actual alliance had taken shape.
This mahagathbandhan was finally formed last week, as a tie-up of the RJD, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) led by Upendra Kushwaha, the Hindustani Awam Morcha led by Jitan Ram Manjhi, the JDU(S) led by Sharad Yadav, and the Left parties.
As we know, every political party has a ‘base vote bank’ of particular castes and communities, which they add to by wooing voters of other parties.
If we analyse the base vote bank of all the mahagathbandhan constituents, we can see that they command the support of a cross-section of society — from Yadavs to Kushwahas to Mushars and Jatavs (all lower castes, the last two called ‘Harijans’) to Brahmins.
In the NDA, the BJP, which calls itself ‘the party of all’, attracts support from mainly the upper caste Bhumihars, Kayasthas, Thakurs and the vyawasayi (business) communities. Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) may attract Kurmi votes, along with a section of upper castes, such as Bhumihars, Thakurs and Brahmins. The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) led by Ram Vilas Paswan has Dushadhs as its base vote bank.
As one can see, some castes, such as Brahmins, can vote for both the Mahagathbandhan and the NDA. But castes such as Mushar — a Dalit community in Bihar — are likely to en-masse back Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha.
Similarly, the Koiris, another disadvantaged caste, are likely to vote for Upendra Kushwaha in a big way. The fact that backward castes are numerically larger than the forward castes would appear to give the mahagathbandhan an advantage. Added to this, some forward castes will also vote for the RJD-led combine, possibly tilting the balance in its favour.
Then comes the question of the Muslim vote.
I talked to many people belonging to the community. What I observed was that many seemed attracted to the mahagathbandhan, due to the presence of the RJD and the Congress. Nitish Kumar, too, is still popular among the community, but his association with the BJP is now making many Muslims move away from him.
Thus, at present, the caste-community arithmetic in Bihar looks good for the mahagathbandhan.
For the past few elections in the state, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s personal appeal has proved to be the deciding factor. This time around, in chai-paan-chauraha discussions, I heard doubts raised over Kumar’s credibility.
The growing crime and violence in Bihar are demolishing his claims of providing good governance. Nitish had the image of ‘sushasan babu’ — a tough and effective administrator who brought to end the apparent ‘gundaraj’ under Lalu Prasad. Now, while Nitish still gets credit for running government schemes effectively, in village squares and city street corners, rising crime is dominating discussions.
Tejashwi Yadav has just completed a ‘Naya Yatra’ in the state, during which he attracted large crowds for his public meetings. Present in big numbers in these gatherings were the young people of Bihar — indicating major tumult ahead in the state’s political future.
Source : Dailyo