PATNA (TIP): It was an alliance that nearly didn’t take place and now it’s the one to watch out for in Bihar. RJD and Congress have come together after they split in 2009, having realized how they faltered fighting separately — and against each other — getting six out of Bihar’s 40 seats.
In comparison, BJP-JD(U) had swept Bihar with 34 seats. Today, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) is plowing a lonely furrow, and is up against a resurgent Congress-RJD-NCP alliance that has emerged as a potent force, becoming the first choice of 26% Muslims and Yadavs in Bihar. Nitish Kumar’s messy parting with BJP in 2013 appears not to have impressed Muslim voters, who are rooting for Lalu. After three phases of polling that covered 50% of Bihar’s seats, there is a spring in the steps of RJD and Congress busybodies who now look sure of reviving their electoral fortune.
Enthused by the overwhelming response, especially in Muslim pockets, Lalu is claiming he will improve even on his 2004 Lok Sabha performance when the Congress-RJD alliance, along with then ally LJP, had walked away with 29 of the 40 seats. It would be a tall order to repeat that: RJD had then won in 22 constituencies, LJP in four and Congress in three seats. RJD in 2009 was the largest constituent of UPA-I after Congress.
An analysis of the voting pattern of different communities in 20 seats in the last three phases and interviews with a cross-section of voters reveals Congress-RJD candidates are in a good position on 10 seats, with the BJP-LJP alliance looking good in the other 10. “It’s an even battle so far, with a slight advantage to the BJP-led alliance,” said a political analyst in Patna. BJP, which had won 12 seats in 2012, is likely to improve its tally riding the Modi wave, and both the saffron party and RJD are gaining at the cost of JD(U), the political analyst added.
“The Congress, which had won just two seats in 2009, is this year going to win at least six seats this year out of 12 it’s contesting because of polarization of Muslim and backward votes towards the RJD-Congress-NCP alliance,” Congress’s Bihar general secretary Vinod Sharma claimed. But aAll may not be lost for Nitish. A cross-section of Muslim leaders said they might vote for JD(U) again in the assembly polls, but this time their priority is to stop Modi from becoming PM. In Bihar, only a Lalu-led alliance is capable of doing that, they said.