Voting has not begun in Bihar yet, but there has been a flurry of pre-poll surveys predicting different electoral results for the state.
A new pre-poll survey conducted by CNN-IBN and Axis has projected a big victory for the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance. The ‘Grand Alliance’, as it is called, is predicted to win 129-145 seats in the 243-member state assembly with a 46% vote-share. For the BJP-led NDA, the survey projects disappointing numbers with the alliance ending up with just 87-103 seats with 38% vote-share.
The survey even breaks down the numbers for each party with Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) making the most of the gains in the election with wins in 64-74 seats out of the 100 seats it is contesting. The Congress, otherwise a minor party in this election, will also be happy with this survey with it predicted to win anywhere around 20 seats out of the 40 it is contesting.
In this election, the BJP is trying to stitch together a larger social arithmetic with its alliance with parties like the LJP, HAM and RLSP to counter Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar. But the survey predicts almost a whitewash for the smaller NDA parties with negligible results. The BJP is projected to win just half of the seats it is contesting.
Among the chief ministerial candidates, Nitish Kumar, the outgoing CM, still remains the popular choice followed by BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi and Lalu Prasad.
In a state riddled with extremely complicated caste combinations, both alliances have tried to ensure representation of all communities. While the NDA alliance’s thrust has been on consolidating upper-caste and Mahadalit votes, the Grand Alliance hopes to win a sizeable chunk of the Yadav-Muslim-Kurmi-Koeri communities.
For the BJP, which believes in the star power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a loss in Bihar would crush the party’s morale. As for Nitish, a defeat would add further heartburn after the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.