Bihar assembly elections are set to be held from 28 October in three phases for 243 seats. The first phase of the polling will be held on 28 October for 71 seats, second phase on 94 seats and third phase for the remaining seats on 7 November. The results will be declared on 7 November.
Before the dates of the polling was announced, there was a discussion going on what will be the issues this time on which the elections will be fought. The two major issues which had emerged were unemployment and the issue of migrant workers.
Bihar which is already backward on all the parameters of development was dealt with heavy blow by crippling corona virus-induced lockdown. Millions of migrant workers who were working outside the state started returning home. But the way the government had treated them was outrageous to say the least. The government stopped allowing them to enter the state by blocking the borders. Thousands of migrant workers from Bihar were falling short of food in different parts of the country. They were neither helped by the local government nor the Bihar government. These poor migrants, many of them were walking long miles to reach their home, were left on their condition. Most of them returned their homes in Bihar facing all the difficulties. But they have lost their jobs. They have no source of breadwinning at home as well as at the place from where they have returned. They are jobless.
This massive job loss in such a short span of time has added to the already rising unemployment in the state. Bihar has always faced job crisis due to shortage of developmental works and the seasonal destructive floods which wreak havoc on the state every year. This is the reason that a great number of people from Bihar migrate other states in order to search for works. In normal situation, this is how Bihar suffered economically. But recently, the destructive economic policies of Modi government have had adverse impact on the economy of the whole country including Bihar. Then came pandemic and lockdown which crippled all the economic activities. Now, Bihar is facing unprecedented situation with respect to employment and migrant worker’s issues.
Both of these issues were at the centre of the discussion till the dates of the polling were announced. Soon after the announcement, they have disappeared all of sudden. The entire political discourse has been diverted toward “jod-tod ki raajneeti”. Which politicians are going with whom and which party is fighting with and which or not.
BJP’s oldest ally Lok Jansakti Party decided to go solo in the Bihar elections despite they are part of the government at the Centre. Political analysts say that the decision of the LJP to contest Bihar elections alone was taken at the behest of BJP high command. It is said that the BJP wants to corner Nitish Kumar with the help of the LJP and increase its influence in the next government. Nitish has been bigger face and chief ministerial candidate of the Bihar’s NDA alliance. However, it seems that now the BJP wants to dominate the alliance. Hence, its leaders seem to draw plan when Nitish will get less seat. If Nitish gets less seats, the BJP will bargain for the chief ministerial seat. It seems that if the NDA wins elections in Bihar, the BJP will try their best to stake a claim to the chief ministerial post. There is another analysis that the JD(U) is trying to spread this rumor to attract the Muslim voters in his favor.
On the other hand, a senior leader of RJD Raghvansh Prasad, who had passed away, had left the RJP and his son reportedly joined the opponent party JD(U). This gave big jolt to the RJD.
Another big development in the Bilhar election is the formation of new alliances apart from NDA and Grand alliance. AIMIM, which has been snubbed by the mainstream secular parties, has come up with new alliance along with other secular parties BSP, RLSP to contest elections. Upendra Kushwaha will be the chief ministerial candidate of this alliance named ‘Grand Secular Democratic Alliance’. Another alliance ‘People Democratic Alliance’ was formed by the Muslim-led parties along with secular parties. Muslim-led parties has been politically untouchable for the secular parties for long. This is the first time when Muslim-led parties succeeded in forming alliance with some of the secular parties.
So, this time there is a battle between alliances rather than parties. However, none of the alliances have so far succeeded in raising the real issues of the people. They all have engaged in ‘jod tod ki rajneeti’.