Why Bihar Election Is Important For The Country
By Syed Ali Mujtaba
23 September, 2015
Since the day Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi announced the date of the Bihar assembly elections and called it as “mother of all elections,” the entire country is keenly watching the developments in this poll bound state.
There are solid reasons for the anxiety because according to the reports, investors, both domestic and foreign, have pumped in more than Rs 70,000 crore in the next six months following the landslide victory of Nrander Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
This was probably the highest ever investment for any government in six-months after general election results in India. It’s reported that since the Delhi assembly results in February 2015 this cash flow has slowed down.
The other indicator, Sensex, the benchmark index of BSE had gained about 17 per cent to touch 28,000 marks in the next six months after Modi’s victory. This has now nose-dived to 25,602.03 where it currently stands.
Market experts say, Bihar election results may have an impact of five per cent on the Sensex at either side.
The other highlight is Bihar election is, whether the Modi government still enjoys popular mandate. After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Modi wave swept the country and NDA notched up string of victories in several states.
However, in the Delhi assembly election in February 2015, Nrander Modi’s political juggernaut was stopped by the Aam Admi party. Since then Modi’s popularity has never been tested on a political turf.
So, Bihar election is also keenly watched to judge Modi’s popularity graph. This may have impact on his leadership’s within the BJP and his influence over NDA partners.
Bihar poll is a referendum on the politics of secularism and inclusive development and those of communalism that excludes minorities. It’s Bihar that upheld the flag of secularism when the entire country was burning in Ayodhya Fire. The elections results may have impact on the nature of direction of change on the political outlook of the country.
The duel between the politics of caste and religion will be another aspect in Bihar election to be watched. The JDU, the RJD, all owes it existence on its caste constituents and profess to be champion of the backward caste. The BJP too has aligned with Paswan and Manjhi to woo the backward castes.
However, for the BJP its very difficult to break the stereotype of a party that epitome of representing the Tilak (Brahmin) Tarazoo ( Baniya) and Talwar ( Rajput), the three symbols of oppression since time immemorial.
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the two states were responsible for thumping victory of the BJP in the 2014 polls. These two states added about 100 seats to the NDA’s kitty making the total tally of 336 seats.
Arithmetically, the NDA got thirty one percent of vote share in the Lok Sabha polls. This translated into an overwhelming number of seats because the opposition then was fragmented.
Since then the electoral map has considerably changed in the country. The opposition at center looks united flexing its muscle in the Lok Sabha and Modi government is backtracking on several issues. The 2015 political scenario is quite different from the 2014, when Modi’s ascendency was at its height.
In such situation will the BJP repeat its 2014 Lok Sabha performance in Bihar? The forecast is, even if does so, it will be difficult for it to have a majority in Bihar assembly. The only way is to give much better performance than the last Lok Sabha results.
The other forecast is, if the BJP looses Bihar election, then it is certain that there will be a new government at Center in 2019.
Broadly, there are two political formations in Bihar. One is the BJP-led NDA with the Lok Janshakti Party, the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party and Hindustani Awam Morcha as its partners. This formation looks broadly united at the moment.
On the other side is; JD (U), RJD and INC combine, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has come together to form a Third Front.
It appears that the opposition to the BJP is in total disarray. They are united only on the surface, but behind it have lot of bickering. The anti incumbency factor is working against the ruling party. This gives the BJP some advantage and hope to win the battle royal of Bihar.
With optimism and pessimism ruing neck to neck, political fortunes can tilt either side in Bihar. It is in this context, Bihar is likely to see a very interesting political contest.
The other interesting aspect of Bihar poll is, if BJP led NDA comes to power, it will improve on its tally in Rajya Sabha, where it is currently in minority. NDA currently holds 60 seats in the 245-member upper House.
Bihar election is important because, before BJP’s current term ends in 2019, it can get 11 Rajya Sabha seats after re election from this state. This will vastly improve NDA’s position in upper House. It will push the reform agenda of the Modi government currently stalled due to lack of strength.
If the BJP looses Bihar, it is certain that its reform agenda at the center may go for a toss. The apprehension is a Delhi-like debacle for BJP in Bihar may have its ominous portents. The back counting Modi government may begin from November 8.
So, what is the most important for Bihar is to have a stable government that lasts five years term. A dramatic improvement in state-level governance is the cry of the people of the state. They want industrialization of the state at the breath neck pace. Bihar needs investments to push up industrialization efforts. It’s only a stable government that can bring large scale investment to the state.
So, one has to look at the Bihar election beyond the win or loss of the BJP led NDA. The election results should not have any bearing on the long term strategy of the state, irrespective of the political formation that comes to power. Even for the country its growth should not get stifled due to election results of a particular state.
The Election in Bihar would be held in five phases the dates of which are, 12 October, 16 October, 28 October, 1 November and 5 November. The results will be counted on November 8.
Bihar is divided into 9 divisions and 37 districts. There are 243 Assembly constituencies, out of which 47 are affected by left-wing extremism. The Election Commission has made adequate preparations for a free and fair election. Central paramilitary forces have been deployed, Election Voting Machines, carrying the photographs of the voters will be used. Political parties have started their fierce campaigns. It is definitely going to be ‘mother of all elections.’
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Senior Journalist
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