October 18, 2015

THE SPOILSPORTS


The Bihar elections has been touted as a two horse race between the incumbent CM Nitish Kumar led 'Grand Alliance' on one side and the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance on the other. With most Opinion Polls predicting a neck to neck contest between the two sides, parties are trying hard to retain their 'traditional' vote banks while hoping to break into those of their rivals. From the development card to caste based politics to evoking religious sentiments, outfits are using every issue under the sun to strike a chord with the electorate and win what is turning out to be the most important polls since the last General Elections. However, with the two coalitions grabbing all the headlines, it is easy to overlook the other smaller parties or formations in the fray; while they may not win many seats, they sure can emerge as 'spoilsports' in their strongholds and at the end tilt the results in the favour of one side. Here is a look at the 'not-so-famous' parties or alliances that could play a crucial role in Bihar 2015. 

The Third Front: A golden rule of Indian politics is that 'You should never mess with Mulayum Singh Yadav'; the wrestler turned former CM of Uttar Pradesh is not known to forgive his detractors so easily. The leaders of the Grand Alliance were made aware of this when the SP supremo not only walked out of the Nitish led front but joined hands with the Pappu Yadav's JAM to float a rival coalition that threatens to wean away some votes that would have otherwise gone to the ruling combination. 

The 'Socialist Secular Morcha' as it is being termed is targeting the powerful Muslim - Yadav vote bank which till about a decade ago was the primary support base of Lalu Yadav. There is no doubt that Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayum is the tallest Yadav leader in the country and he is expected to wield some influence in western parts of Bihar, mainly in the district bordering UP. Besides, the presence of Pappu Yadav's Jan Adikhar Morcha (JAM) will boost the alliance's chances, particularly in his stronghold of Madhepura. The JAM founder certainly has a point to prove; after being expelled out of the RJD, he would want to make Lalu pay for it. In fact, it is believed that several RJD and JD-U leaders who have been denied tickets by their parties are in talks with the controversial politician ahead of the polls. Former Union Minister Nagamani's Samras Samaj Party (SSP), former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma's Nationalist People's Party (NPP) and former Jhanjharpur MP Devendra Prasad Yadav's Samajwadi Janata Dal - Democratic (SJD-D) too are a part of this combination. 

Of course, it has not been all smooth sailing for this alliance. One of its major constituent - the NCP walked out of the Front citing differences with the SP. Ironcially, NCP leader Tariq Anwar was being projected as the Morcha's CM candidate. 

Nationalist Congress Party: The Sharad Pawar led outfit has certainly made a fool of itself in the Bihar assembly elections. In the beginning it was a part of the Nitih led 'Maha ghatbandhan' but walked out of it after it was given just three seats instead of the 12 that it has asked for. Next, it entered into a pre-poll tie up with the SP and was allocated over 40 seats to contest as a constituent of the Third Front. However, days before the second round of voting, the party snapped all ties with the coalition, accusing Mulayum Singh of being hand in glove with the BJP.  

Kathiar MP and party's Muslim face Tariq Anwar speaking to the media said that his outfit will contest 45 seats alone. The NCP will be a strong contender in the six assembly segments of Kathiar district of Bihar and will again eat into the votes of the Nitish - Lalu alliance. The extent of the damage it causes to the 'secular' parties needs to be seen.

The Left Front: Six Communist parties too are fighting the Bihar polls with the aim of providing a 'viable' alternative to the people as per Communist Party of India (CPI) General Secretary Prakash Karat. The other constituents of the alliance include the CPI-ML, the CPM, the RSP, the Forward Block and the Socialist Union of Communist India - Communist (SUCI-C). The coalition is believed to have substantial base Bhojpur and Beguserai regions of the state but it will be crucial to see if this translates into seats.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen: It turns out that all the hullabaloo surrounding Owaisi's debut in Bihar turned out to be a dud. Though he had earlier announced plans of contesting on seats from four districts in the Seemanchal region of the state, in a statement made this past week, the AIMIM chief has said that his outfit will only contest from six assembly seats. This move should come as a big relief for the mega coalition since it was believed that Owaisi could end up splitting the Muslim vote which till sometime back was said to be firmly behind Nitish and Lalu.

Shiv Sena: A partner in the government headed by the BJP in Maharashra, the Uddhav Thackeray led outfit's entry into the fray is likely to affect the chances of some NDA candidates in Bihar. The saffron outfit which is regularly in the news for harassing Bihari migrants in Mumbai is hoping to capitalize on disgruntled BJP leaders to help it open its account in the northern state. Though even opening its account will be a big achievement for the Sena, it could play the spoiler for the NDA on some closely fought seats.

Bahujan Samajwadi Party: Though the Mayawati led party once had representatives in the Bihar state assembly, today the BSP's prospects look bleak. The party on its part is contesting all 243 seats but it will take more than a miracle to even win a single seat. As per the plan, the BSP is targeting the Dalit and women voters to do well in the polls.

Jharkhand Mukhti Morcha: The Shibu Soren led JMM has some support base in parts of southern Bihar with significant tribal populations. The former Jharkhand CM will be banking on these votes to spring a surprise and win a few segments.


P.S: Of late, I have not been regularly updating this blog. Apart from work, the other reason is that I have started a new blog - Raajaniti (Link) dedicated to Indian politics. Henceforth, I will put up posts on this topic on both these blogs. 

Also, I would request you to check out the new blog and please provide your valuable feedback.