Bihar Elections have always played an important role in gauging the mood of the people – the “wave” that would flow from the North of India before other elections to important states take place. The Elections have become all the more important especially after a “drought-like” period that saw citizens losing jobs, starving, dying en route to their villages and districts, walking hard and long miles away from the pandemic-ridden cities they had urbanised through their hard work and in fact looking back at their homes because the cities could no longer feed them in the lockdown. Several guest “migrant” workers returned to their villages as their personal economies were hit and several died – the statistics of whom were difficult to know from the government for a long time. It is not known if they have found income back home but the ones who still cling their hopes on democracy must be waiting to vote for a government that would actually work for their betterment, that would give them work, improve their lives and even save them from the pandemic which still takes its toll on their lives. People want employment, better health infrastructure and a heedful government that would listen to their woes and even rescue them during the frequent floods in their State.
Bihar had last seen people vote for the “Gathbandhan” that Nitish Kumar – who now switched allegiance to the BJP, was a part of. People had voted for the alliance of Congress, RJD and JDU. But since then seats of power have changed and yet RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has remained in strong opposition without Lalu Prasad Yadav. Last election rallies remember him for his “Bhaiyon Bhehnon..Bhaiyon Bhehnon” jibe against Modi and the big crowds that the RJD leader attracted. Tejashwi’s rallies are reportedly drawing similarly record crowds and many have observed that there was a Tejashwi wave as big as Modi wave of 2014. There is reportedly an ongoing huge anti-incumbency wave against the incumbent Chief Minister Nitish Kumar due to his 15 years long rule and supposedly poor handling of the COVID-19 induced lockdown and reverse migration of labourers from different parts of the country, like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana.
The rallies have already seen heated exchanges between Tejashwi and Nitish Kumar with the latter taking “ask your father” jibe and with BJP’s star campaigner PM Modi also attacking him with “Jungle Raj Ka Yuvraj” remarks while although the “Raj” or tenure is not actually his but the young leader has responded saying these were signs of anxiety in the NDA alliance. The NDA alliance has however lost a close ally –Bihar’s LJP that has chosen to fight on its own with son of the late leader Ram Vilas Paswan Chirag Paswan now carrying the baton. Chirag Paswan wants to put Nitish Kumar behind bars for alleged corruption but still shows strong support for the BJP. Some have even called this a “secret” plan between LJP and BJP.
“ …he(PM) came to Bihar, he could have spoken about a special package, unemployment, more important issues.. It is the world’s biggest party (BJP), they are using 30 helicopters…if their PM talks like this, the public knows everything. But he should have spoken on issues like poverty, factories, farmers, unemployment”, Tejashwi has retorted to NDA’s jibes.
Big promises have been made in the form of 10 lakh jobs. BJP’s banners have also seen a quiet shift from “Justice to Shushant Rajput” to “Free Vaccines” for voters which many have questioned as “bribing the voters” and not in accordance with election code. However, “big parties” and money have always played crucial role in elections with few NGOs even questioning “electoral bonds” and bringing the issue before the Supreme Court again. “Election Management” has also emerged as pivotal of which the ruling BJP is said to be a leader.
It remains to be seen if a new wave emerges from the North. Elections are scheduled from 28 October to 7 November with results on 10 November.