Patna: If the BJP wins the election in Bihar, it should send a thank you note to just one person. And this person is not Narendra Modi.
Much as it would like to believe that Modimania is keeping the BJP in the race, the brutal truth is the prime minister is not a major factor in Bihar. Nobody is talking about his performance at the Centre. Very few Biharis agree with what he says during his mega rallies.
It should be clear from the ever-changing strategy of the BJP in Bihar that the party has no clue what will influence the voter. So, Modi is trying everything: development talk, packages, scare mongering—‘they shield terrorists’, ‘want to take away your quota’, the PM of India has said in search of the magic formula-- and casteism by hard selling himself as an EBC who has endured oppression.
No, there is no Modi of 2014 vintage in this election. Yet, the BJP can win.
At the Patna airport a few days ago, a large contingent of celebrity journalists deplaned an afternoon flight. All of them are part of a group that travels through constituencies of every poll-bound state to make up their mind about the outcome.
But this group's mind was made up even before it reached Patna. "The BJP is losing Bihar, at least this is the impression in Delhi," one of them told me as we exchanged notes in the arrival lobby. The feeling in Delhi is that since the Dalits and extremely backward caste voters are solidly behind Nitish Kumar, the BJP is headed for an embarrassment.
On paper the arithmetic is rooted in statistics. With the Nitish Kumar-led alliance sure of Muslim, Yadav and Kurmi votes, it needs just the Dalits and EBCs to back it. If that happens it is curtains for the BJP. If these voters vote for the Mahagathbandhan, another Delhiesque disaster looms for the BJP.
But one person stands between a BJP wipeout and Nitish Kumar victory: Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Everywhere you go in Bihar, any person you speak with, this is how a conversation goes.
Q: So, who is winning the election?
Answer: It is a tough fight. Nitish Kumar could have won the election. But he made one mistake: aligning with Lalu Prasad Yadav.
I have heard this response not once. This has been the standard reply since August, perhaps the time since Biharis started making up their minds.
In every election rally, Lalu Prasad Yadav claims his alliance is ahead because it has named the groom and the BJP has not. So, let me explain the Bihar conundrum through the groom analogy.
Yes, everybody loves Nitish Kumar. He is widely accepted as the best CM of Bihar. There is overwhelming consensus that he has redefined Bihar and put it on the path of progress. Unfortunately, Lalu Prasad Yadav is the proverbial mother-in-law that comes as a package with the groom in this election. Bihar has to just decide if it can accept the groom in spite of his in-laws. This is the only choice in the election.
The BJP has tried its best by raising a din over Lalu Prasad Yadav. Its campaign has been centred on portraying him as the deal breaker in the purported alliance between Biharis and Nitish Kumar.
It is for the EBCs and Dalits to decide now if Nitish Kumar will retain control over the government or Lalu Yadav's presence will usher in the dark days of Mandal Raj? In all humility, the BJP should accept that the voter whose choice matters in Bihar has just one decision to make: Did Nitish Kumar err in aligning with Lalu Yadav? The BJP can only keep a thank you note ready. And send it to Lalu Prasad Yadav if it wins Bihar.
Updated Date: Nov 03, 2015 19:25:16 IST