Two new entrants — the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) headed by former chief minister and Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, and the Vikasshil Insaan Party (VIP), headed by EBC Mallah (boatman) leader Mukesh Sahni — have been given seven and 11 constituencies respectively. Hence, the four NDA constituents bring together a formidable social combination of upper castes, OBCs, EBCs and Scheduled Castes.
While the BJP has traditionally had a vote base of upper castes and sections of OBCs and EBCs, the JD(U) has behind it non-Yadav OBCs, mainly Koeris and Kurmis, and a fair chunk of EBCs and SCs. Manjhi joining ranks with the NDA only consolidates the SC vote base of the alliance. And the LJP staying away may not dent that much given Chirag Paswan‘s repeated avowals of loyalty towards PM Narendra Modi.
Also Read: Battle for Bihar – we explain why it matters
But caste is just one factor. Nitish’s development plank is another major positive for this alliance, apart from Modi’s continuing popularity. As recently as last year, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that the BJP and JD(U) fought together (along with the LJP), the NDA had won all but one of the 40 seats in Bihar. The Congress had won the remaining one.
However, the lockdown, the economic distress, the migrants back home and the mismanagement during the floods are all issues the Opposition is hoping to milk.
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