Indian Express

5 ways the NDA split hurts Nitish

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EVMs being carried to a booth in Gaya on Wednesday.PTI EVMs being carried to a booth in Gaya on Wednesday. (PTI)

A senior journalist recalled that Nitish Kumar, during his early days as a politician, had thumped his table during an animated discussion and said he would “one day upset rigid caste calculations to wrest power”. Nitish did so successfully in the 2005 assembly polls, with the BJP’s support that brought him the votes of the upper castes, non-Yadav OBCs, a large part of Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and some Dalits, making it a winning combination against Lalu Prasad’s Muslim-Yadav (MY) combination.

In 2010, Nitish played up “Lalu’s misrule” against his own agenda of development and the NDA got 205 seats in a House of 243. A year earlier, in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the JD(U)-BJP alliance won 32 seats out of 40.

Five years on, it’s all uphill for Nitish Kumar and his party after it split with the BJP.

On Tuesday, when Nitish was asked at a press conference why development, his keyword in 2009 and 2010, has been out of discussion in 2014, the CM struggled for an answer before saying, “It is the BJP and the RJD that have been trying to divert attention from development.” In his speeches, Nitish has been cautioning voters about communal tension if the BJP comes to power. Here are five reasons why Nitish may well have lost the plot after the split with the BJP.

Calculations awry

A top JD(U) leader close to Nitish tells The Indian Express,”Had the JD(U) and BJP been together, we would have won 38 seats, forcing Lalu into political oblivion. But our split seems to have made Lalu the BJP’s prime rival, rather than the JD(U) that won 20 last time.”

Ask any voter in Pataliputra, Ara, Buxar, Gaya and Sasaram about the JD(U)’s chances and the answer is the same. “Maybe third position,” says Dharmendra Kumar of Gaya. “Nitish could have easily dominated Bihar politics for another 10 years. Just as Delhi voters are not convinced about the reason for Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation, we are not convinced about the JD(U)’s delayed secular turn. Now he will get neither Ram nor Imam.”

In 2009, the JD(U) and BJP respectively won 24.04 and 13.97 per cent of the votes. The RJD won 19.31 per cent and the LJP 6.55, sharing four seats, while the Congress fought separately and won 10.26 per cent and two seats. Now with the BJP, the LJP and Upendra Kushawaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party on one side and the RJD-Congress on the other, the JD(U) is left with only the CPI to challenge the larger caste blocks. While Lalu’s M-Y combine looks more or less intact, though the BJP and the JD(U) threaten to cut away some Yadav and Muslim votes respectively, the BJP also has the backing of upper castes, non-Yadav OBCs and some part of Nitish’s Kushwaha voters, thanks to Upendra Kushwaha.

Social engineering untested

Nitish had created continued…

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