BJP proclaims Nitish Kumar as Bihar CM face, but anti-incumbency and LJP could disrupt JD(U)'s plans
Here are some of the possible scenarios that the Bihar chief minister may find himself dealing with in the future
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday sent a message by proclaiming, yet again, Nitish Kumar as the leader of the NDA in poll-bound Bihar. This was after Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) announced that it will not contest the state elections along with the JD(U).
While it remains to be seen whether the BJP continues to back Nitish after the poll numbers are out, the LJP's decision certainly opens up several interesting possibilities. Here are some of the possible scenarios that the Bihar chief minister may find himself dealing with in the future:
What works in JD(U)'s favour
For now, Nitish is likely to draw some reassurance from the BJP's stance. On Tuesday, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi emphatically said at a press conference, "Please rest assured. Nitish Kumar will be our chief minister irrespective of which party gets how many seats"
Also, Nitish is by far the most popular chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, if opinion polls are any indication. According to a CVoter opinion poll, 30.3 percent respondents want Nitish as the chief minister, as compared to Tejashwi Yadav, who is favoured by just 15.4 percent of the respondents.
The pollster has also predicted that the NDA could win a majority in the election, winning 141-161 seats as compared to 64-84 for the UPA.
The NDA did extremely well in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Bihar, winning 39 out of 40 seats. If the JD(U)-BJP alliance sticks together in the coming days, Nitish could benefit from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.
According to another CVoter survey, 48.8 percent of the respondents categorised Modi's performance as 'good', while only 29.2 percent believed that his performance was 'poor.'
What JD(U) would be wary of
While the BJP has repeatedly stated that Nitish is the face of the coalition, the JD(U) would be well aware that these statements mean little in the light of emerging political developments.
An instance of this was seen in Maharashtra last year. The BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the election in an alliance, but the Shiv Sena later broke away and formed a government with the NCP and Congress.
After the BJP briefly formed a government in alliance with NCP leader Ajit Pawar, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was also trolled over his old statement that the BJP would "never, never, never" have any alliance with the NCP.
In the Bihar election, if the BJP wins more seats than the JD(U), then the latter party could well be in trouble. As an article in NDTV notes, the LJP could stage 'friendly fights' in several seats by putting up candidates who may not win the election but can eat into the vote share of the JD(U).
Under the seat-sharing agreement, the JD(U) has got 122 seats while the BJP has got 121 seats. The JD(U) has set aside seven seats for the Hindustani Awam Morcha, while the BJP will accommodate the new entrant Vikassheel Insaan Party.
Depending on the number of seats the BJP allots to VIP, the BJP could effectively contest in more seats than the JD(U).
Another worry for the JD(U) is anti-incumbency.
According to the CVoter survey, Nitish is facing massive anti-incumbency: perhaps for the first time since he was sworn in as chief minister fifteen years ago. As many as 56.7 percent of the respondents said that they are unhappy with him and want change. Further, 45.3 percent of the people surveyed rated his performance as 'poor.'
In this backdrop, if the BJP steals a march over the JD(U), Nitish could be in for tough days ahead.
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