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Are Bihar Voters going to Spring a Surprise?

As Bihar heads towards the first phase of the Assembly elections in the state, opinion polls have predicted a comfortable victory for the Janata Dal United-Bhartiya Janata Party coalition.  The two parties of the National Democratic Alliance, NDA, are sharing the total 243 Assembly seats almost on a 50-50 basis.The alliance at the state level is fighting the electoral battle under the supposed leadership of Chief Minister and JDU leader Nitish Kumar. A complicating factor is that Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party has put up its candidates against the JDU though it is a part of the NDA at the national level.
The LJP has been saying that it opposes Nitish Kumar but supports the BJP and the NDA led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Chirag Paswan’s party in the circumstances is likely to lead to splitting of votes, adversely affecting the fortunes of the JDU.The BJP has denied the surmise that the LJP manoeuvre is a proxy fight to cut the JDU and its leader Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to size.To reassure Nitish Kumar, the BJP has declared time and again that he would be the Chief Minister nominee again even if the BJP wins more seats than the JDU. But the question is, will the Bihar voters endorse such an alliance. A straw in the wind is that the opposition Mahagathbandhan nominee for the chief ministership Tejaswi Yadav has been attracting massive crowds at his election meetings while the NDA rallies have been sparsely attended comparatively.
The issue of people suffering the adverse consequences of massive unemployment has also become a major election issue. Bihar has especially suffered the impact of the lockdown imposed to check the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic. Crores of workers from Bihar working in major cities like Mumbai had to return home, spiking the number of the unemployed.Another factor is that people generally look for change even if those in power have delivered. Nitish Kumar has been Chief Minister almost continuously for 15 years and fatigue sets in, both for the ruler and the ruled.Will Nitish Kumar overcome the winds of change and come out unscathed in this 2020 electoral battle will become known in the coming fortnight.


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