The Bihar elections – Laloo accepted the supremacy of Nitish, for now

It’s been some days now, but it seems that for now, Laloo has accepted Nitish Kumar as the leader of the opposition fight in Bihar. For some time, there had been a standstill, with Laloo not ready to accept Nitish Kumar as the candidate. And of course, Nitish could not accept a situation in which he would not be the leader of the opposition alliance in the state. Even though, for some time now, it was clear that the merger plan between the socialist parties had totally broken down with the reluctance of the Samajwadi Party to carry through with the proposed merger plan (they could not see any benefit for the party in the state of Uttar Pradesh, since the other constituents do not carry any support in Uttar Pradesh).
It is clear to the opposition parties in Bihar that if they do not unite, they will lose out to the BJP in the forthcoming assembly elections. This was proved in what has happened in the past 1 year. In the Lok Sabha elections, the JD(U) and the RJD fought separately, and the BJP, riding high on the Modi factor, managed to win a commanding position. Nitish’s position became so bad, that even though he had a majority in the assembly with the support of non-BJP parties, the moral pressure on him became so high that he had to accept responsibility for the electoral debacle and resign from the Chief Minister position. However, the future was not so easy for him. He gave up power to Manjhi, who decided that he would be his own man, and made any kind of power to Nitish difficult. Finally Nitish had to rally the party behind him and with not much of support from within the party, even by playing the MahaDalit card, Manjhi finally had to go. However, this also showed that Nitish was the undisputed leader of the JD(U). On the other hand, soon after the Lok Sabha elections, there were bye-elections for some assembly elections, and there was common opposition candidates. These were lost by the BJP, thus showing to the opposition that state assembly elections where the opposition was united could prevent the BJP from marching ahead. This is something that the entire anti-BJP opposition seems to realize clearly, and why they will compromise rather than getting into heated arguments which could lead to them fighting separately.

This does not mean that this compromise will be easy. On the issue of seat allocation, it will be very tense. One of the parties will seek to get more seats than the other (the Congress of course will be the junior most partner in the alliance and should not expect too many seats), and every seat will be fought over. Further, Nitish Kumar has fought for the past decades in opposition to the mis-governance of Laloo Prasad and his party, and on the side of development tactics. Now to be associated with Laloo and be seen in alliance with him is sure to lose him some votes, and the BJP is likely to keep on drumming on that point, that Nitish had sold himself to the same party which he had been opposing for so long. The transference of votes from one party to another is not supposed to be easy as well.
For the BJP, it is not likely to be smooth sailing either. The BJP is for now refusing to project a Chief Minister, instead seeking votes in the name of Narendra Modi and development. This has the risk of a failure tarnishing the name of the Prime Minister and diminishing his political aura. Further, there has been a dimming of the aura of the Prime Minister, since it has a year now and although development is happening, there will be some sense of disillusionment, and thus the support base will be lower than in the Lok Sabha. A loss for the BJP will be problematic since it will give the opposition parties more courage to oppose it.

2 comments to The Bihar elections – Laloo accepted the supremacy of Nitish, for now

  • Sushil Modi is a popular face of the Bihar BJP and is considered a natural choice and main claimant for the chief minister’s post if the BJP-led NDA defeats the grand JD-U-RJD-Congress-NCP alliance in the polls slated for September-October.


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