Kushwaha's RLSP the Weak Link as Exit Polls Give BJP-JD(U) Edge Over Grand Alliance in Bihar?
A senior RJD leader said the alliance with the RLSP has not worked on ground as they have not been able to transfer their caste-based votes to the Mahagathbandhan.
RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, AICC in-charge for Bihar Shaktisinh Gohil and HAM (S) chief Jitan Ram Majhi, leave after Bihar Mahagathbandhan leaders' meet, in New Delhi on March 13, 2019. (PTI Photo)
Patna: Most exit polls have predicted a majority for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, with states like Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh expected to contribute to its seat count in the Lok Sabha. Of these state, the BJP is in alliance with major regional parties in at least three.
In Bihar, Maharashtra, and Punjab, the BJP fought the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal, respectively. Of these three, the BJP alliance faced a stiff opposition challenge in Bihar.
The JD(U) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) fought on 17 and six seats, respectively, and will play an important role in government formation if, as exit polls indicate, the BJP alliance wins 32-38 seats. If the predictions materialise, it would mean that the JD(U) and LJP were able to win a majority of the seats they contested.
But such a scenario will be possible only if constituents of the Mahagathbandhan completely fail to consolidate their votes. The Mahagathbandhan in Bihar includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM Secular, Mukesh Sahni's VIP and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) of Upendra Kushwaha.
As expected, the grand alliance has rejected the predictions of the exit polls. RJD sources told News18 that the party leaders are not ready to believe that the alliance with the Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), VIP and the RSLP didn’t work on the ground.
The RJD logic has been that the respective vote share of its alliance partners — Muslim (17 per cent), Yadav (14 per cent), Kushwaha (8 per cent), Sahni (8 per cent) and Manjhi (3-5 per cent) — when combined and transferred to the grand alliance candidates will form a formidable bloc impossible for the NDA to breach.
The VIP was allocated three seats and the RLSP was given four with the expectation that both parties will severely dent the vote base of the NDA given that both Nitish Kumar and the BJP have made inroads in the extremely backward caste (EBC) and the Koiree-Kurmi community.
Manjhi’s HAM (Secular) was allocated three seats to wean away the Mushhar community from the NDA. Nitish Kumar has worked hard over the years to gain complete grip over the Mahadalit community, of which Mushhar is a big constituent.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior RJD leader said the alliance with the RLSP has not worked on ground as they have not been able to transfer their caste-based votes to the alliance. “However, we are not pessimistic about our other alliance partners,” the leader said.
He further stated that alliance with the Congress might not have been effective as they have no solid vote base, but the alliance was struck to have a national party on board which is invariably secular in character.
The official party line, however, is that the exit polls got it wrong.
“The exit poll is bogus and cannot be trusted. Let me assure you that Bihar would be the state to successfully stop the BJP from coming back to power,” Ajay Singh, RJD’s youth general secretary, said.
Mocking the exit polls, VIP president Mukesh Sahni, said, “The grand alliance will win more seats than the NDA. We have no doubt about this. This (exit poll) has been tactically done to allure smaller parties to leave the alliance and join them.”
Hitting back, JD(U) spokesman Sanjay Singh said, “Those who have done nothing are relying on caste. But people have voted for development. They have voted for Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi.”
“Several social welfare measures and schemes like Ujjwala scheme, allocation of homes to poorest of the poor under Awas Yojna, electricity to every household and most prominently ‘7 Nischay’ programme launched by Nitish Kumar made people vote for us,” Singh said.
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