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Poll 2020, thumbs up to BJP’s Corona management & Tejaswi politics

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Columnist is an Assistant Professor of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, Honourary Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS) and author of novel 'Travails of LOVE'.

The election to Bihar assembly as well as by-elections to eleven state assemblies’ 59 seats spread over politically significant states from north-east’s Manipur and Nagaland to northern states Haryana, UP and Jharkhand, central states MP and Chhattisgarh, eastern state Odisha, western state Gujarat, and southern states Telengana and Karnataka have been held and results have been announced early this week after unusually long counting process rarely seen since launch of EVM, much due to Covid19 guidelines that Election Commission of India had imposed throughout the election process.

This peaceful three phase election in politically sensitive state Bihar is one of the most outstanding development or one can claim a major achievement, hardly seen during elections in last few decades in the state, thank to sushasana branded sitting CM of Bihar Mr. Nitish Kumar(69), who has given top priority to law and order throughout his rule, and partly Tejaswi Yadav, who tried to distance him and his party from his parents’ kind of ‘jungle raj’ politics. Kumar’s major achievement among others is scaling down of one and half decade long jungle raj of previous Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri regimes. Unfortunately, Kumar’s party JDU, which had second highest number of lawmakers in the last assembly with 71 members, is one of the biggest losers in this election as it has been reduced to 43. And this is the first significant elections held while the whole country -irrespective of states and regions- has been struggling to survive from global pandemic, the kind the human civilization as a whole has not ever experienced.

Anyway despite pandemic and its huge fallouts with loss of large number of human lives and related heavy economic cost and oppositions from several quarters to postpone the election till pandemic is subsided or controlled, the elections were held. And the voters turn out was overwhelming.

By-elections to 11 state assemblies

Total 59 seats were in the electoral fray. Of that 41 i.e. 69% won by BJP, while 18 seats have been shared by three regional parties JMM, BJD and NDPP and one national party i.e. Congress. At the top of BJP performance is the result in Gujarat where party clean swept all the 8 seats, which were won by Congress in the last general election to state assembly and the MLAs had resigned to join BJP, which necessitated the by-election, belying the expectation of Congress that the voters will teach a lesson to MLAs who switched side. Similarly, in Manipur, out of four seats got vacated due to resignation of Congress MLAs, and election held, three have gone to BJP and one to independent. In MP, out of 28 seats in fray, BJP won 19 seats and Congress won 9 seats. Out of the total 28 seats, 22 were vacated due to resignations of Congress MLAs when grand old party’s senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia revolted which caused fall of Congress’s Kamal Nath government. Subsequently, Congress dissidents joined BJP, and 15 of those 22 emerge victorious with BJP tickets. Gujarat, Manipur and MP by-election results have made it loud and clear that ‘politicians’ betrayal to political parties does not matter to voters’.

In Karnataka, Odisha and Jharkhand two seats each and in Chhattisgarh one seat in the by-elections, the ruling parties such as BJP, BJD, JMM-Congress alliance and Congress respectively bagged all the seats. While in Karnataka, the saffron party snatched two seats from secular alliance of Congress-JDS; in Odisha, regional party BJD snatched one seat from national party BJP and retained one seat; and in Chhattisgarh, Congress snatched lone seat from regional party Janata Congress of late Ajit Jogi family. In Telengana, BJP snatched lone seat from ruling regional party Telengana Rashtriya Samiti. In Jharkhand, BJP got biggest shock as ruling coalition snatched two seats from it. In Haryana, the ruling national party lost lone seat to opposition Congress; while in Nagaland, ruling regional party NDPP won one and independent one. Over all in the by-elections, the voters have given verdict to ruling parties. And a thumbs up to the effort of governments in so far as their managements of dreaded pandemic are concerned. This is major take away from the by-elections in 11 state.

Bihar Assembly election

In Bihar, the election basically held between two alliances of National Democratic Alliance lead by sitting Chief Minister and veteran politician Nitish Kumar and opposition leader and Mahagathbandhan lead by 31 year old son of corruption tainted and convicted former CM Lalu Prasad Yadav though there was third alliance called Grand Democratic Secular Front (GDSF) under the leadership of Hyderabad based AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owasis. GDSF alliance partner were Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLKP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). AIMIM clinched five seats and alliance partner BSP bagged one.

Party wise success status: NDA’s BJP won 74 seats and JDU won 43, while their junior partners HAM and VIP won four seats each. Put together, NDA won 125 seats. Mahagathbandhan’s RJD won 75 seats, which is single largest party, and Congress bagged 19 seats, while their junior partners’ a combination of three Left parties (CPI-ML, CPI and CPIM) won 16 seats. Together, they won 110 seats. In the house of 243, NDA with 125 seats has got just absolute majority, and will form the government.

Though NDA’s leading party BJP as per pre-poll agreement has, since result is announced, accepted Nitish Kumar as alliance’s CM; yet Kumar and his party are the biggest losers. Other biggest losers are: Grand old party Congress and so-called dalit vanguard LJP and their crown prince Rahul Gandhi and Chirag Paswan respectively. Among the biggest gainers are NDA’s BJP, which for the first time clinched alliance’s driver sit despite contesting less number of seats compare to JDU as it bagged 74 seats, un-scalable for other alliance partners as JDU has fallen to 43 seat from 2015’s 71 seats, and Mahagathbandhan’s Left and RJD and latter’s leader Tejaswai Yadav.

This time Congress bagged 19 seats out of 70 seats contested, whereas RJD bagged 75 seats out of 144 seats and Left combined won 16 seats out of 29 seats contested. Mahagathnandhan’s result clearly demonstrates that Congress is the biggest dragger of Grand Alliance. This result has reduced the grand old party to the level of political pariah not only in Bihar but also in all over India, meaning any party before going to forge alliance with Congress-Gandhi has to think twice before forging alliance as benefit is doubtful. Other loser is the nation as a whole as it is fast being deprived of national opposition party against ruling national party BJP, a big loss to Indian Democracy. On the other hand, Indian Democracy is about to gain by way of the fast eclipse of biggest undemocratic dynasty i.e. Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has been a role-model for other dynastic political parties in India.

Regarding other loser LJP and its owner Chirag Paswan, which won just one seat, it is difficult to gauss his game plan. There are several possibilities. Till the death of party founder Ram Vilas Paswan, which happened during the election process, the party was in NDA alliance in the centre and late Paswan was in union cabinet. LJP mainly contested against JDU with stated objective to see that BJP candidate to be CM, while BJP leadership accused LJP as vote-cutter. And from the result, it is clear that JDU is a big loser due to vote-cutter LJP. Among the many guesses, here are two: 1. Chirag Paswan might be used by BJP to reduce JDU and Nitish Kumar importance in state politics. And 2. Junior Paswan might have been scheming to replace aging Kumar in NDA’s Bihar politics.

When BJP gains is its leadership gets a stamp of approval on their policies and governance, there is a lot to discuss about gain of Tejaswi Yadav as a politician and RJD as a regional party for future in Bihar. Now, Tejaswi has been successful in establishing himself as the only undisputed owner of RJD among his nine siblings (two brothers and seven sisters, including three already in politics), and to a great extent, he has been able to decouple the party from its tainted past and parental negative legacy by way of not allowing his parents in election campaign despite NDA’s campaign slogan against Mahagathbandh included ‘Jungle Raj’ verbatim. For first time, in long past four decades, Lalu had not campaign in state election. In Bihar politics, after Kumar’s declaration that this election is his last, the future election will be fought between national party BJP and Tejaswi.

In this election, Left parties are too major gainer as they have bagged 16 seats out of 29 contested. But, in view of their violence characteristics, having no national presence, and in increasingly democratized world, theirs this election gain is not sustainable. Moment Tejaswi comes to power on his own, which is not impossible, in state’s caste based politics, he will first to finish CPI-ML, which won 12 seats out of 19 contested and most radical one among the three Left parties, like Rajashekhar Reddy did in Andhra Pradesh and Mamata Banarjee did in West Bengal to radical Left.

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Bimal Prasad Mohapatra
Columnist is an Assistant Professor of Management Studies in Trident Group of Institutions, Bhubaneswar, Honourary Research Fellow in Defense Research and Studies (DRaS) and author of novel 'Travails of LOVE'.

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