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Venue for Modi's 1st Bihar Rally, Crucial for Left & Tejashwi: Why Bhojpur Will be Most Interesting Battle

File photo of Narendra Modi. (PTI)

File photo of Narendra Modi. (PTI)

In the Lok Sabha polls held in this area just over a year ago, which includes Rohtas, Siwan, Gopalgunj, Kaimur, Bhojpur, Saran and Aurangabad, NDA won all the seats by margins of over 20% votes. The same region, spread over Bihar's south west, according to exit polls, is likely to spell a remarkable turnaround for the RJD+.

As the first trends start emerging, one of the most interesting areas in Bihar to look out for will be the Bhojpur region. This is where Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his Bihar political campaign from (in Rohtas' Sasaram constituency on October 23 when Modi even delivered part of his speech in Bhojpuri), and where all the big leaders of the NDA — Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP president JP Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh — addressed multiple rallies.

In the Lok Sabha polls held in this area just over a year ago, which includes Rohtas, Siwan, Gopalgunj, Kaimur, Bhojpur, Saran and Aurangabad, NDA won all the seats by margins of over 20% votes. The same region, spread over Bihar's south west, according to exit polls, is likely to spell a remarkable turnaround for the RJD+.

According to data released by Axis My India, among the six regions in which Bihar is divided - Bhojpur, Champaran, Kosi, Mithilanchal, Patliputra-Magadh and Seemanchal — Mahagathbandhan is doing its best in this political arena, leading by 12% vote share. The exit poll has predicted MGB getting 33 seats here and NDA being reduced to just 9 seats.

Historically, Bhojpur has been torn apart by caste violence. This is where hundreds of people were killed by upper caste militia Ranvir Sena and by Naxals backed by landless peasants. Most of Bhojpur went to polls in the first phase, which meant that of the two major alliances, the ruling NDA and the opposition MGB, whichever won Bhojpur could carry forward the sentiment into subsequent phases.

From the point of view of MGB, the RJD needed its Yadav voters to back it to the hilt, especially because the other constituent of RJD's MY formula - the Muslims - don't have a substantial presence here. In the first phase, more than 50% of RJD's candidates were Yadavs. And the intermediary Yadav community, which is present in great numbers here, in areas like Siwan, Maharajganj and Gopalganj - the bastion of Lalu Yadav, seems to have done just that. Axis My India poll suggests that 83% of the Yadavs stood solidly behind the MGB.

Bhojpur also happens to be the core area of CPI(ML). In fact CPI(ML) in recent years came to be known as a 'Bhojpur-based party'. It was given a good number of (19) seats in the MGB alliance, especially seats from areas such as Siwan, considered to be RJD strongholds. The same exit poll has predicted CPI(ML) to be getting between 12-16 seats, suggesting that the big left party in Bihar managed to transfer its core vote base among Mahadalits and Extremely Backward Classes (EBC) to the MGB. If the numbers hold, it could end up with its highest ever tally in Bihar.

NDA needed its urban/upper-caste voters in areas such as Arrah, Rohtas and Buxar to come out in huge numbers. BJP gave over 60% of its tickets in the first phase to upper caste candidates. For NDA to get any significant advantage, it needed BJP legislators who made forays into the Lalu bastion, such as VD Prasad, three-time MLA from Siwan, to click again. And for non-Yadav OBCs such as Kurmis and Khushwahas, along with the Mahadalits and EBCs to yet again stand completely behind Nitish Kumar. However, this seems not to have happened, and one could more or less extrapolate this for the rest of Bihar.


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