Battle for Bihar

Battle for Bihar

Battle for Bihar. All eyes will be on the turnout in Bihar elections as never before with the first phase beginning today.

All eyes will be on the turnout in Bihar elections as never before with the first phase beginning today. A clinical assessment is crucial to the parties to know who is coming to vote and in what numbers, not just the overall percentages. The initial grappling with the developmental issues faded sooner than expected with caste, religion and even beef becoming the mainstay.

The entire crux of the campaign was a minimalistic "unhe hathaao, hame bithaao". A cow slaughtered in a far away UP village has become the main course of the political menu in Bihar and each party is trying to polarise voters over this. This only has made the hysterical debate into a historical one while Dadri gave way to Babri via Godhra.

Spreading hatred and spewing venom came to the fore as primary quality of politicians here. A highly-calibrated statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on reservations had a greater impact in the last few days and almost hijacked the other issues till beef overturned it. It is back to Mandal vs Kamandal.

The Mahagathbandhan or the grand alliance consisting of the JD(U)- RJD- Congress and the BJP led LJP- RLSP- Hindustani Awam Morcha (of Jitan Ram Manjhi and Jan Adhikar Morcha (of Pappu Yadav) kept changing the goal posts frequently in their bid to outdo the others. While the Nitish- Lalu combine harped on 'Bihari aur Bahri' theme in its effort to distance the BJP from the locals, the latter raised the decibel pitch of its attack on the 'Jungle Raj' of the past and the character of the alliance.

Devoid of any central theme, the election campaign soon saw enrichment in the language skills of the netas. Lalu felt the heat over his 'Hindus eat beef" remark and thought it fit to lend a desi identity to the BJP calling it 'Bharat Jalao Party' and Narendra Modi preferred to rechristen the Mahagathbandhan, a Mahaswarthbandhan and Lalu, a 'Shaitaan' only to be called back 'Maha Shaitaan'. Behind the veneer of all these exercises lies the only fact - consolidation of vote banks.

The claims and counter claims apart, the secular alliance is desperate to retain its vote bank intact and the BJP-led grouping is trying to chip away as many. The introduction of AIMIM to Bihari voter is seen as one such attempt by the BJP which is trying to bond people on communal lines to weaken the base of the so-called secular allies. The absence of Lalu's face in the flexies of Nitish campaign is a clear indicator of the fear of anti-Yadav sentiment.

The refusal of the BJP to name its CM candidate betrays its trepidation and wariness of the caste-backlash. In the midst of all this ‘tamasha’ the common man is left wondering as to what would be his future and if at all it would change. Yet, one segment of voters is silently observing the scene - the youth. If they turn out in large numbers from other than Yadav-Muslim combine, then Nitish will be biting his fingers. Watch out!

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