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Will JD(U) cross the edge of NDA alliance in Bihar, an answer by Game Theory

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Shishu Ranjan
Shishu Ranjan
Economist and Banker


It’s no longer a rumour that everything is not well within Bihar’s ruling alliance partners I.e. BJP and JD(U). If history is examined carefully, this seems to be following similar pattern what Bihar has observed prior to divorce of BJP-JD(U) in 2012 and later RJD-JD(U) in 2017. The pattern starts from planting stories in newspapers about internal rift over an issue, denying these stories till the time is ripe to strike at the root of alliance, and then final strike at the time when partner is completely unaware. For the first time, communalism became the planted issue, though it was in alliance with the same ‘communal’ party for last 17 years. The second time, it was corruption, though it entered into a partnership with a party known for corruption and jungle raj records. As of now, the current ruling alliance has completed two of the three described steps of an observed pattern where all leading newspapers are reporting over this matter, but leaders are denying any chances of separation.

How does game theory explains this situation? There could be three possible scenarios. First, JD(U) cross over to UPA. Second, JD(U) creates its own bloc in Bihar which can have other parties as its junior allies. Third, JD(U) remains in NDA. Lets analyse all three and conclude.

First, there is the probability of crossing over to UPA as congress, the only national party in UPA – Bihar, has already made an offer. However, the probability is very low for many reasons.

1. Congress is a national party but not a dominant partner in Bihar. It is RJD which will have greater say in alliance strategy and RJD is clearly not in favour of accepting JD(U), specially after the bitter experience of alliance breakup.

2. Even if JD(U) is allowed to enter into UPA, its not going to get desired results for JD(U) as the number of seats allotted will not be higher than what it will be getting in NDA. In such situation, JD(U) will prefer to choose NDA as BJP plays second fiddle role in state politics and position of JD(U) leaders are much better than what was under RJD alliance.

3. Crossover to UPA will further dent its leaders credibility which is itself at all time low at present. Therefore, this option is likely to be discarded.

On the other hand, there is a higher probability of creating a new bloc by quitting NDA along with other supportive partners. Given the bitter experience of going solo in 2014 Lok Sabha election, JD(U) does not want to go alone and therefore, will try to win allies from smaller partners in NDA and UPA. From UPA, congress and HAM are potential allies. However, the track record of JD(U) in last six years are not trustworthy for Congress to risk its all weather ally, RJD. HAM does not have much stake in case it rejoins JD(U).

From NDA, LJP as well as RLSP are two small but strong political parties which can bring strong vote base for JD(U). However, LJP will weigh its option against future uncertainty. As of now, LJP is very well placed in NDA and is expected to gain much more strength in absence of a clear majority of BJP in upcoming Lok Sabha election. Also, LJP position becomes much more important in absence of JD(U) which they will definitely keep in mind before crossing over to new alliance led by JD(U).

Lastly, trust factor over JD(U) is at all time low which will also play an important role in LJP in taking the final decision. RLSP is expected to be happier in NDA in absence of JD(U) as vote bank of JD(U) overlaps with theirs. Considering all these permutations and combinations, it is highly unlikely that LJP will quit NDA and in its absence, JD(U) is not expected to risk its state government just to contest a higher number of Lok Sabha seats.

Third, the probability of remaining in NDA is highest as the other two probabilities are smaller. In such situations, game theory suggest that JD(U) is playing the chicken game in which one player chickens out at last minute in order to minimise its loss, with the expectation that other player will also follow the same. If other player does not chicken out, he wins this game. This could be a well thought out strategy by JD(U) to maximise its seat share in an alliance where it is having the happiest existence.

It is just a matter of time to witness the execution of this defined game. Entire nation is watching this game which will have a definite impact on national politics. But, the impact will me much more on Bihar and its politics.

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Shishu Ranjan
Shishu Ranjan
Economist and Banker
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