It is Young Turks vs. Old Guards in Bihar This Time


It would be difficult to predict the poll outcome of Bihar Assembly election due in Oct-Nov yet the coming together of two young leaders in their early 30s may certainly be a morale-booster to opposition camp

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

Separately the two may be crowd-pullers. Together they have the potential to become a deadly combination of vote-catchers.

The entry of the two Left parties — the CPI and CPI(M) — into the Rashtriya Janata Dal-led Grand Alliance in Bihar is most likely to bring the leader of opposition in state Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and the former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar on one platform.

It would be difficult to predict the poll outcome of Bihar Assembly election due in Oct-Nov yet the coming together of two young leaders in their early 30s may certainly be a morale-booster to opposition camp. The NDA leaders may be brushing aside the whole exercise as zero+zero is equal to zero, but in private they are alarmed as they seriously lack young blood in their rank. They have in the form of Chirag Paswan one such face, but he and his outfit the Lok Janshakti Party has been pushed to the corner though it is still a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.

Though there is nothing for the NDA to cheer about after the results of the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Delhi yet the sagging confidence of the Grand Alliance was certainly coming in the way of its revival.

No doubt the Left has virtually been decimated in almost the entire country, barring Kerala, in Kanhaiya Kumar a large section of youths certainly see some future. Similar is the case with Tejashwi, who till the last year’s Lok Sabha verdict was leading the party with confidence.

What many media pundits are unable to gauge is the mood of the youths, especially between the age of 18 and 35. Be it educated or uneducated, skilled or unskilled, the level of frustration and disillusionment is the highest among this very section of the society.

They form a huge chunk of millions of migrant workforce which returned to Bihar in very traumatic condition after being rendered unemployed.

Till sometime back the NDA, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party would generally bank on them. The party used to concentrate on the first and second time voters. But this time its students’ wing is invisible. In contrast it is the students’ wing of other parties, for example, the National Students’ Union of India (affiliated to Congress), which is taking up the issue of the JEE and NEET exams.

Similarly, it is Tejashwi  who has visited various nooks and corners of the state to listen to the problems of the migrant labours as well as Corona and flood victims.

While the media’s attention is concentrated on the heavyweights like chief minister Nitish Kumar and  his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi what they are not realizing is that they both are approaching 70 and are two hackneyed horses. The NDA is putting all the energy to woo former chief minister and leader of Hindustani Awam Morcha, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who at 76 is senior to both. Not only that, all out efforts are on to bring into Janata Dal United fold former Union minister and senior RJD leader, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, 74. He is not keeping up well and is still in hospital.

Many independent political observers are of the view that Manjhi and Raghuvansh are virtually spent forces and it is futile to invest too much in them.

What most political analysts are fearing is that the voting percentage may be much lower because of the COVID-19 and the conditions laid down by the Election Commission, what they are overlooking is that unlike in the past Bihar will this time have at least three million more voters. The migrant labours and students who have returned to their homes may not find it difficult to exercise their adult franchise. A small proportion may go back to work yet a big chunk will remain in the state.

Besides, unlike in urban areas people are not so much panicky vis-à-vis Corona in the countryside.

An overwhelming percentage of this section is feeling let down by the Bihar government in this great hour of crisis. Even the hard-core supporters of NDA are not showing any sign of enthusiasm in voting for any Nitish Kumar-led formation.

The joining of hands by Tejashwi and Kanhaiya may deal a blow to the likes of Pappu Yadav and Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen. Not only the Grand Alliance’s social base will expand it may help check the frittering away of many floating votes into Pappu’s Jan Adhikar Party and AIMIM.

 Unlike the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Left parties have learnt a bitter lesson. While the last time the talk over seat-sharing adjustment had collapsed simply because the CPI had laid down the demand of something between five and six Lok Sabha seats. They over-rated Kanhaiya. But his big defeat by about five lakh votes at his home turf, Begusarai, at the hands of Union minister Giriraj Singh, made the Left more realistic and they have not laid down any pre-condition before joining the Grand Alliance.

As perception matters much in any election, the joining of forces have certainly changed the minds of a large section of fence-sitters.


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