Let’s not fall into the trap of comparing the Bihar Election results with the US elections. From the announcement of conducting elections during the COVID-19 pandemic to putting Chirag Paswan in the antagonist position as the main opposition to Nitish Kumar to the marathon 16-hour vote counting, everything has gone according to with the BJP strategy.
For political parties in Bihar who want to avoid BJP’s hegemonic rule, the only way out seems to be if the JDU defects from the NDA.
How BJP Stole the verdict!
Modi and company not only escaped accountability for their mishandling of COVID-19 by not only distancing themselves from Nitish Kumar but through this election have also tackled Nitish Kumar for once and all. Based on the counting irregularity claims made by the opposition parties are making with regards to the results, it is clear that the BJP’s strategy from the beginning was to reduce the margin of victory through vote-sharing so that in the end through the “benefit of doubt” it could get results in its favour.
The Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance made allegations that the counting of votes was rigged, and claimed that the election commission had announced the victory of its candidates in 119 seats on its own website. Since 5 pm yesterday, RJD spokesman Manoj Jha complained to the press almost every hour about irregularities. Left party CPI ML, which performed better than expected in this election, also complained to the Commission about irregularities at the Bhore seat. That is, this case should be going from the commission to the court.
BJP leaders themselves weren’t certain of this self-proclaimed victory. At ten o’clock in the night, as news came that there were talks going on between Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav, the BJP hastily called a press conference at midnight and announced that the NDA has won an absolute majority (122 votes) and that Nitish Kumar will be the Chief Minister. At the time, the counting of votes was still going on, and we only knew the results for 180 seats. Not only this, BJP leader Sushil Modi even went to Nitish Kumar’s house and Amit Shah called and congratulated him on his victory. The famous Silent Monk, Narendra Modi even tweeted and congratulated the NDA and the public for “saving democracy”.
Choices in front of Nitish Kumar
Even though BJP has announced Nitish Kumar as their CM candidate, Nitish will not forget the humiliation that he faced when BJP pushed for Chirag Paswan throughout the elections. His options have been made even more limited. If he accepts the victory laid out by the BJP and takes on a fourth term, the prospects of him finishing that term seem very unlikely. Based on its track record, the BJP is not going to miss out on showing him the exit door and install their own Chief Minister. For this, they won’t even shy from horse-trading from JD U and Congress. This would mean the political death of Nitish Kumar and the JDU.
If Nitish Kumar wants to avoid political suicide, he could join the Mahagathbandhan or the Grand alliance. He will be able to save his MLAs from defection, and the alliance would have more than 150 seats to form the government. This post-poll alliance is not new and Maharashtra has already set a precedent for the same with the Shiv Sena. Similar to the JDU, BJP and Shiv Sena were aligned prior to the elections, and the BJP had made the Shiv Sena into a “junior partner.” After the elections, Shiv Sena defected from the NDA and created an alliance with the NCP and INC after the elections. This has proved to be good for keeping BJP in check.
Currently, Nitish Kumar has been given a choice: choose to become the Chief Minister with the BJP sign up his and his party’s political demise as well as the people of Bihar, or defect, and break BJP’s hegemony.
The article was first published in Workers Unity web portal. It is translated into English by Neelima Mundayur.
The author is the editor of Workers Unity web portal.