Why Bihar results are important for India

Written By: Daniel Francis
NEW DELHI Published: Nov 09, 2020, 09:10 PM(IST)

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

The election outcome will determine if voters have chosen to reward or punish the Bihar Government for the mismanagement of the pandemic.

Bihar elections are the first election in India after months of Covid 19 pandemic. While India has greatly returned to normalcy, the months that went by shook the common man and industry. In retrospect, the sudden lockdown looked poorly planned and executed. The pandemic at many levels exposed the inefficiency of public administration. Indians whether farmers, labourers, students, professionals and businessmen suffered through the health crisis, crippling medical system and slower pace of already slowed down the economy. 

For many years Bihar elections have been measured through the prism of caste dynamics. Nitish Kumar for the last 15 years was branded as the father of good governance and architect of caste coalition called -maha Dalits. On the other hand, Lalu Yadav’s RJD failed to enlarge its social base or wipe out the tag of corruption and lawlessness, it earned during its 15 years of rule. 

The pandemic came as a political disruptor and changed the rules, of the game of throne in Bihar. While Lalu is in jail, his son Tejashvi made a bold move to make unemployment, jobs and backwardness of Bihar the issue. After 15 years, Nitish Kumar looks like a politically exhausted leader. He failed to communicate any fresh ideas or promises that can capture the imagination of people. Modi’s several rallies had little impact on the discourse. The once exciting jungle raj and Yuvraj diatribe had less impact than expected. Nitish and Modi are suffering from triple engine anti-incumbency. Young Tejashvi has smartly disengaged himself from the discourse trap normally the BJP lays for its opponents and have rather got the ruling partners to give explanations to the people of Bihar. 

The election outcome will determine if voters have chosen to reward or punish the Bihar Government for the mismanagement of the pandemic. It will also send a message to the BJP of acceptance or rejection of their work. People of Bihar will decide if they will forgive the Lalu Yadav clan and accept Tejashvi as its leader. 

Election results in the second most important state in the Hindi heartland will have a cascading effect on Indian politics. If Modi and JDU win, this will be a huge vindication of Modi lead NDA. It will clearly convey that even the pandemic or the management of the economy have not been able to shake Modi. 

Modi will remain the unfazed, Mr Invincible. This victory will also give a boost to the ambitions of the BJP to win West Bengal. 

If BJP and JDU lose Bihar, nationally it’s an embarrassment for Modi administration. It will be perceived as an astounding statement on Prime Minister’s governance also the political price for a David Vs Goliath battle will be huge. In a strange coincidence, what’s happened in the US has put Prime Minister Modi on the back foot. He had put his personal capital behind his friend Trump and risked diplomatic norms of engagement by campaigning for Trump. From Pennsylvania to Patna if friends and allies lose, the days ahead will be tough. 

Whatever the outcome, the US elections have proved that the most invincible can be replaced. Right-wing politics is not here to stay forever and also rekindled hope in change. The pandemic will have its effect on the elections as it directly affected lives and livelihoods. 11th November is not just a test for tall men like Prime Minister Modi or Nitish Kumar. It may establish Tesjashvi as young and promising leader of Bihar. With what’s happening in India and globally, the excitement and interest in a state election has never been so thrilling. More than RJD, it’s crucial for the BJP and JDU to win this election. Mr Modi has a lot at stake! 

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer)

Daniel Francis

Daniel Francis is a crisis communication specialist and has worked closely with leading political parties on election strategies. 
   

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