Bihar is one of the most influential states in Indian politics. Late Jaya Prakash Narayan – the warrior of safeguarding Indian democracy and the brain behind Janata Movement during emergency period, were from Bihar. The state Bihar has witnessed many regional parties, importantly JDU, RJD, LJP which have campaigned major role in previous central and state ruling.
Bihar is the state rich in human and natural resources with fertile land covered by ever flowing revers. Hardworking Biharis have made the state ever green and the landscape is bursting with agriculture. Though Bihar has such rare and invaluable wealth it has been lagging far behind in the graph of Indian development. The poor and poverty stricken Biharis strewn over many states of the country in search of livelihood. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of education, child labor, lack of basic infrastructures like electricity, road, sanitation, health are very common which turned the life of citizen into dark and dim. Lawlessness, nepotism, casteism, corruption, hooliganism have crossed all its limitations in Bihar.
25 years back, the people dejected from the earlier Congress regime, have shifted their loyalty and opted the regional political group JANATA Parivar with a dream of bringing a change in Bihar. But, even after 25 years of ruling by Janata Parivar, no change has ever been seen, instead the scenario led from worse to worst.
Now with the general assembly election’s declaration in the state, almost all parties of the country are ready to show their vigor in Bihar assembly election like a war field.
The conditions of towns and suburban areas in the state are far from any modern developmental concepts. Open drains, filthy streets, pot hole – dusty – damaged roads made the life of urban civilians unbearable. Electricity is the biggest challenge for the people. Frequent and continuous cut off of electricity supply is very common in the urban areas and electricity is a rare thing in rural areas. Bihar has the lowest per capita income in the country at Rs 5,772 against the national average of Rs 22,946 indicates that productivity, development and economy has fell down drastically. Atrocities on Dalits, Tribals and minorities are still a big challenge in Bihar where caste politics and feudalism is in its highest point. All parties including ruling government are uttering the hymn of ‘Bihar awaits changes’. BJP is trying in full volume with an ambition and with every gimmicks to capture Bihar into its parlor. It has formed NDA alliance coping with Lokjanshakthi of Ramvilas Paswan and Hindustan Awami Morcha of former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. At the same time Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar Yadav have also joined hands grabbing Congress with them. The alliance of RJD-JDU-Congress has been promoted as ‘Maha Ghatbandhan’ (grand alliance). Samajvadi Party, at the last moment has changed its mind to quit the grand alliance dissenting in seat sharing matters. SP and NCP have come into mutual understanding and declared to jointly come into the fray. Similarly CPI, CPM and other communist parties have formed an alliance for a joint fight. Social Democratic Party of India, popularly known as SDPI has declared its contention in 5 constituencies. Meantime, All India Majlis e Ithihadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Party owned by Owaisi Brothers has also decided to contest in 24 constituencies.
Two election surveys indicated that there are 50:50 chances for both ‘Maha Ghatbandhan’ and NDA, which exposes a massive battle between parties and alliances in Bihar assembly election. People in Bihar have firmly understood that the ruling parties in the state and at Center have contributed nothing to Bihar.
The Urban and rural areas in the state are in such a pathetic situation, that one can say that they are far away literally from any development. Lives of civilians have become agonizing due to open drainages, filthy and garbage strewn streets, dilapidated roads, undisciplined traffic system, corruption in all walks of life, etc. The biggest problem in the state is disruption of power supply, to which the government has not shown willpower to set it right. The condition in the rural areas too is totally miserable. It will be a special day if there is power supply of 8 hours in a day in the rural areas.
Caste politics has the prime role in Bihar politics which has impacted badly and directly on exercising social justice. 25 years of Janata rule has counterfeited the people’s expectation of changes in Bihar. In the past years, infighting in Janata Parivar had led to division which resulted in formation of separate parties which fought against each other in previous elections with mutual animosity. Now, these parties joined together in the name of ‘grand alliance’. The success of this grand alliance in this assembly election will be depending upon the mindset of the workers and leaders of these parties as they need to ally at the grass root level too. It has to overcome factionism within and discontent among the ticket aspirants. However, no doubt, the charisma of Lalu Yadav and Nitish Yadav will attract major votes of Yadavs and other OBC communities. The people from all over India are curiously and positively awaiting to see how successful the commitment of ‘grand alliance’ could be in keeping away the BJP from capturing power in Bihar. Strictly speaking, JDU is sole responsible for solidifying BJP which was once week in Bihar by forming alliance with it in the previous elections. The previous JDU-BJP alliance had strengthened the base of BJP in Bihar. The reason for parting ties by RJD with right wing BJP is only because the candidature of Narendra Modi as PM which RJD was not ready to cope with. If the PM candidate would have been other than Narendra Modi, perhaps RJD wouldn’t have parted tie with BJP. Hence, the minority communities in Bihar may not be attracted to JDU.
NDA alliance is also nothing but a muddle. Alliance by Dalit based parties like LJP and HAM with right wing BJP is nothing but an anomaly. Both Ramvilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi have stood up on the political foundation by fighting against upper cast hegemony, untouchability, inequality, etc. Nevertheless, these political leaders have turned back from their ideological abode and embraced the right wing BJP only for gaining opportunities. Hence, the people from their own community may not support them. BJP and PM Narendra Modi are calculating that they may get the votes through speeches and promises. Narendra Modi’s recent declaration of a special package of Lakhs crores for Bihar is kept aside by the people of Bihar as deceiving, as his declaration of “Ache Din” during the 2014 Loksabha election has already been proved damp squib. His promises like bringing back black money, lowering prices, development, etc. are all big lies. After BJP coming into power in the center, there is an increase in communal violence in the country, increase in hate speeches, saffronisation of education-culture and even the history, about which people have been disappointed by it as the party has been trying to build the country on the basis of rightwing nationalism. Narendra Modi and BJP playing ‘development card’ outwardly, while in the background the RSS, their master is hell-bent in promoting Hindutwa, communal polarization and corporatization turning the situation in Bihar even more worse. Hence, the option for the people in Bihar is to choose less harmer ‘Mahaghatbandhan’ than most harmful ‘NDA”.
The communist alliance in Bihar is not promising to people’s wishes as previous election results show that there is no popularity for them. Though NCP and Congress parties do not have massive vote bank in Bihar, we can see little seats for them which may not cross single digit. Now, MIM has freshly stepped in Bihar, willing to contest in 24 seats, is mainly eyeing on Muslim vote bank. But, Muslims in Bihar are not familiar with MIM as the party is very new to them and there is no base in the state. They are well aware that the party has no any clear stand and solution about the issues of Muslims in Bihar. The Muslims are well aware that the violent and exaggerated speeches are not the solution for Indian Muslims.
Social Democratic Party of India is contesting in 5 constituencies with confidence of opening a new chapter of its history in Bihar politics. The cadre based party and has a presence in 10 districts with thousands of cadres. SDPI has been actively working in Bihar for about 5 years, has addressed lot of local issues pertaining to the public in general and of Muslims and Dalits in particular. Huge public participation has been witnessed in its pre-election rallies and conferences held in different districts of Seemanchal. Keeping an eye on Muslim – Dalit and OBC votes, the party has fielded 3 Muslim and 2 Adivasi candidates. SDPI, with the objective of building a hunger free – fear free nation, has committed to eradicate corruption, communalism and corporatization in the country through inclusive politics. The country is eagerly watching whether SDPI will open its chapter of political power by winning assembly seats in this election.
With this speculation, calculation and analysis one can say that the assembly election in Bihar will be a battlefield which will bring a clear message to the parties, public and to the country as well.
The author welcomes feedback about his writeup.
He may be contacted at the following address:
Elyas Mohammed Thumbe
SDPI National General Secretary
A-15, Hazrat Nizamuddin West, New Delhi – 13