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Bihar polls: Nitish may be ahead but don't write off BJP just yet

N Kumar | Updated on: 23 October 2015, 16:23 IST

The polls so far

  • Two phases of polling have been completed in Bihar.
  • The fate of 81 assembly seats in 18 districts have been sealed.

  • The fight is still on for 162 constituencies. This means that two-thirds of the seats in Bihar are still up for grabs

  • It is still too early to predict who will win

  • Most of the areas that have already voted were "tough zones" from a security point of view, given the Naxal threat.

  • Yet the polling was largely peaceful.

  • The Grand Alliance held 55 out of these 81 seats.

  • Pundits say that the Grand Alliance has done well in the first two phases.

Phase 3

  • Voting for the third phase will take place on 28 October, after a gap of 12 days from the previous phase.
  • A large number of Biharis working in other states have come back for important festivals like Dussehra and Muharram.

  • As a result, the election scene has heated up even more.

  • Many regions in the remaining phases aren't as favourable for the Grand Alliance.

  • For example, regions like Champaran, Patna, Buxar and Bhojpur are traditional bastions of the BJP.

  • The Grand Alliance is facing a tough battle in Darbhanga-Madhubani as well, which are upper-caste dominated areas.

  • Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM and Pappu Yadav may act as spoilers for the Grand Alliance in Seemanchal and the Kosi region respectively.



Advantage Nitish? Not necessarily

  • Some say that a large number of women came out to vote for Nitish Kumar in the first two phases.
  • This might not necessarily be the case. The sentiment among female voters is yet to be tested after the JD(U)-BJP break-up

  • Yes, women have hailed Nitish Kumar's free bicycle scheme for girl students and 50% reservation for women in local body elections. But that didn't work in the JD(U)'s favour in the Lok Sabha elections.

  • Many women favored Nitish because of his opposition to Lalu Prasad. Will they change their stand now that the two are allies?

  • The change in the BJP's tactics after first two phases is being seen as admission of defeat by many.

  • Even in the 2005 Assembly elections, the BJP changed its strategy mid-way during the elections and projected Nitish Kumar as the CM candidate. It paid rich dividends in the remaining phases.

  • Apparently, some of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rallies were cancelled and Modi and Amit Shah were replaced by state leaders in the campaign hoardings.

  • The opposition said that the BJP campaign is losing steam. But perhaps the rallies were cancelled because of the festive season.

  • It isn't just the NDA, even the Grand Alliance had to change some of its hoardings, to accommodate leaders other that Nitish Kumar.

Too close to call

  • In short, this is a closely contested election with no wave in favour of any alliance.
  • The voters are still holding their cards close to their chests.

  • The Grand Alliance is fighting to prevent a split in its core vote bank.

  • The NDA is striving to broaden its base by accommodating new caste groups.

  • The key to victory lies with Dalits and Most Backward Classes. But, nobody is in a position to predict which way they are going to vote.

  • Trends vary from seat to seat.

  • Nitish Kumar is undoubtedly the most popular leader in the state. But the claims of a landslide can go against him.



First published: 23 October 2015, 16:23 IST
 
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