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Bihar polls: how the Left may end up helping the Right

Panini Anand | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 4:19 IST

The Left parties' slogan in Bihar is clear - 'we shall fight, we shall win'. But there is less clarity on whom they are fighting and what they might win.

The 6 Left parties are fighting together and they claim their main enemy is the BJP-led NDA. But ironically, they might end up helping the NDA by eating into the votes of the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance.

The Left parties would be part of a larger entourage of "Vote Katwas" or spoilers, which includes the Samajwadi Party, NCP and Pappu Yadav.

This is the first time the Left is putting up united from in the state. The CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) (Liberation), Forward Bloc, RSP and SUCI have come together, which is no small achievement. They are planning to put up candidates on all 243 seats in Bihar.

"The discussions regarding distribution of seats are in their last round," CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya told Catch.


The Left has fought and won a few seats in Bihar in the past few decades. As of now, the Left has only 1 representative in the state assembly. In 2010, CPI contested 56 seats, winning one and bagging 1.6 percent of the votes.

Speaking to Catch, the lone CPI MLA Abdhesh Rai said, "I agree that the Left is not in a good condition in Bihar. However, the united Left alliance will bring energy to Left politics here". Rai represents the Bachhwara seat of Begusarai district. CPI has won this seat for the fourth time since independence.

6 Left parties have come together in Bihar for the first time. They plan to contest all 243 seats

The Left has prided itself in being steadfast in battling the BJP. But hasn't it weakened "secular" forces by contesting independently?

"This is a very narrow minded stand. No one can question the integrity of Left parties. We want to give a political alternative to the people of the state," says CPI leader D Raja.

Left parties have presence in the districts like Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Samastipur, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Banka, Purnia, Madhubani, Gaya and few others in the state. If they fight on more than 200 seats in the state, they might get some votes on some seats.

"Even if they lose their deposits, they might act as spoilers for the Nitish-Lalu alliance. BJP voters aren't going to vote for them. In Assembly elections, even 1000-2000 votes matter to win," says senior journalist and political analyst Gyaneshwar.

JD(U)'s counter argument

However, the JD(U) denies any threat from the Left. "They call BJP fascist but they want to contest all the seats in a bipolar election. People will not waste their vote and this would make the Left even more irrelevant," says JD(U) MP Ali Anwar.

However, the Left parties were firm that they didn't want to join Nitish and Lalu's bandwagon. They argue that they don't need lectures on combating fascism from JD(U), which ruled Bihar with the BJP's help for 8 years.

The Left's calculation is based on the belief that many voters in Bihar are fed-up with Nitish but they don't want to vote for the BJP-led alliance either.

Only time will tell if the Left will retain its relevance in the battle between the NDA and the Nitish-led alliance.

First published: 8 September 2015, 10:02 IST
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.