BJP surges as dominant EBCs combine
By Shivaji Sarkar
Caste has overtaken economics in Bihar. Yes, once again. Laloo Yadav’s son Tejashwi emerged as a star leader but the family caste baggage was a bit too heavy to shed it off. However, there may be a bid by the opposition to realign for 2021 state polls. So, Bihar voted once again for caste than development. The upper caste except for pockets where RJD had pitted them largely swayed against the RJD, rather in favour of BJP, because the Yadava’s hooliganism is not trusted by them. So, it has happened with the EBC – extreme backward castes. The dominant Yadavs are not trusted as they exploit them, assault them and do not listen to them. They suffered during the lockdown the most. Crores, at least five to seven crores, walked down the highways across the country with their families. They faced worst hardships back home. Their own families were not happy at their return. But they could not vote for a party dominated by muscle men. The syndrome is too strong even in UP, where the Yadav-dominated Samajwadi Party does not enjoy the confidence of other castes. This happened despite Tejaswi’s appeal to his supporters not to behave in a rowdy manner, whatever the poll results. It seemed to have worked to an extent though not everywhere, particularly in remote villages. The Muslims had a Hobson’s choice. They were possible preferred Hyderabad-based Asaduddin Owaisi’s, MIM, supposedly close to the BJP than the ally of the BJP, Nitish Kumar’s JD-U. Its five-seat tally is not much but it has damaged both the JD-U and RJD in ten more seats in different ways. JD-U came down from its tally of 71 to 43, loss of 28 seats and RJD’s victory march was stopped at 75, loss of five seats.
The only party to make significant gain is BJP. It adds 23 seats to have 74 this time. This was against all odds of lockdown, pandemic, economic slowdown, high vegetable prices and overall inflation, normally all that should go against a ruling party. It may not be an endorsement of the policies of the NDA, as the BJP leaders are saying from the rooftop. But there is a perception among the upper castes, marginalized classes and non-Yadav castes, that semblance of law and order, oppression and exploitation in the society could be ensured by the national party with a wider social base. The exit polls miserably failed, may be because many of these were sponsored by different political groupings, many others may have done just a desk job and never tried to take a feed at the fields and some may have been grossly biased. Most reporters of newspapers and TV channels had a far better understanding of the ground situation as they talked to this scribe before and after the polls. One aspect the exit poll masters ignored is the BJP’s multi-pronged strategy. It acted politically in an astute manner. Those analysts who are saying that the issues raised by Tejaswi, did not rattle the BJP, are not correct. The BJP strategists, particularly prime minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda and a host of the RSS cadre worked to have an alternate strategy away from the prying eyes of the media or rival parties. They charted out a strategy at constituency and booth levels. The social engineering the BJP did at the localized level, something once Congress was adept at. It went to the extent of managing caste leaders, segments and of course at times cajoling them with many hand-outs. The BJP had the advantage of the money power and various funds that it has in its command. Even the government officials find the BJP to be a sober element and give them comfort than an abrasive RJD with many of its functionaries being uncouth. They dented Tejashwi’s barbs against the economic hardships or in many cases failures. Even except in pockets the Left, which increased its tally to 17, could not succeed in penetrating the narrative of hardship among the voters. However, the Left has demonstrated that still they are conceptually strong and the extreme marginalized have a trust in their methodology. If that would give a rise to them is difficult to say. The landed classes of Bihar have abhorrence for their brash, at times violent, tactics. The poor loser in this election has been the Congress. It lost eight seats from their previous tally of 27 to clock a mere 19. This is despite an apparent better show by Rahul Gandhi. Of course, in 2015 they got 27 seats as they were in company of RJD, JD-U. The shift of JD-U to RJD cost them votes. The Congress is organizationally and conceptually weak in the state. The RJD had given them 77 seats to contest of which the about 70 percent seats were traditional strongholds of the BJP. The Congress could manage the seats where the RJD could give it a support and transfer votes at all other seats it came out a cropper because it could not demonstrate that the party has any conceptual, strategic or strength to lead the society. Congress has to go a long way to regain its lost ground or be a match to the BJP.But expecting that the victory of NDA, would dishearten the opposition in the coming elections in Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, may not be true. It would, however, not be easy for them to create a counter-narrative against so far, the skillful functioning of the BJP. However, a process of realignment, including in West Bengal, the most crucial state for the BJP, cannot be ruled out though the BJP itself is good at winning new political forces. Pic courtesy :OUTLOOK India