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Opinion | Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar, a liability for NDA campaign

Senior BJP leaders in Bihar have already begun to sense the mood of the voters, who are eager for change this time. Nitish Kumar ruled for 15 years in Bihar, first in alliance with the BJP, then joined Mahagathbandhan, and later walked out to forge alliance with the BJP again.  

Rajat Sharma Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive
New Delhi Published on: October 22, 2020 14:07 IST
OPINION | Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar, a liability for NDA campaign
Image Source : INDIA TV

OPINION | Bihar polls: Nitish Kumar, a liability for NDA campaign

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Wednesday night, India TV reporters spoke to a cross-section of voters in different places like Madhubani, Khagaria, Bettiah, Aarah, Patna, Buxar, Hajipur and Raghopur, and found a strong anti-incumbency mood against Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. The only game changer who can turn the tables on RJD-led Mahagathbandhan is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will join the election campaign on Friday.

Senior BJP leaders in Bihar have already begun to sense the mood of the voters, who are eager for change this time. Nitish Kumar ruled for 15 years in Bihar, first in alliance with the BJP, then joined Mahagathbandhan, and later walked out to forge alliance with the BJP again.

The question is: why are voters unhappy with their CM? Most of the voters India TV reporters spoke to pointed out to gross mismanagement during Covid pandemic, Nitish Kumar’s absence from the scene when floods ravaged Bihar, and a strong perception that Nitish Kumar failed to address their grievances during his 15-year-long rule.

After watching reactions of common people, it is amply clear that the voters of Bihar have almost made up their mind: to oust Nitish Kumar from power this time. Leaders like Tejashwi Yadav, Chirag Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha have already sensed the voters’ mood. None of the voters spoke out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s clean image of probity in public life is still in the minds of common voters. Some of them even went to the extent of saying that they would vote for whichever candidate Modi would ask them to. But not a single voter spoke in support of Nitish Kumar.

RJD leader and chief ministerial candidate Tejashwi Yadav has sensed public mood. That is why he is only focusing on Nitish Kumar in his speeches. Tejashwi has so far refrained to speak out against Modi, because he knows that the common man has deep affection towards the Prime Minister.

LJP leader Chirag Paswan says, he is a supporter of Modi, but he will never accept Nitish Kumar as chief minister again. Senior BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath, Rajnath Singh, Jagat Prakash Nadda and Ravi Shankar Prasad, in their election rallies, are seeking votes in the name of Modi, his government and his achievements. They rarely make any mention of the present incumbent Nitish Kumar.

On Friday, Modi is scheduled to address three election rallies in Bihar. In all, he will address 12 rallies throughout Bihar. BJP leaders expect that Modi’s entry in the election campaign could act as a gamechanger. Modi may caution voters not to make a mistake in the name of anti-incumbency, because the people of Bihar have not forgotten the infamous 15-year-long RJD rule, during which the law and order situation had reached its nadir. Even Nitish Kumar is counting on Modi to save him from anti-incumbency mood.

On the other hand, with Lalu Prasad in jail for the last two and a half years, the entire burden of running the party and its election campaign has fallen on the young shoulders of his son Tejashwi Yadav, a former cricketer who has studied till Class 9. He is rousing the crowds by promising to give 10 lakh government jobs after coming to power. On Wednesday, Tejashwi addressed 12 election rallies. His speeches are brief, he lashes out at Nitish Kumar but he refrains from attacking Modi. The entire Mahagathbandhan consisting of RJD, Congress, Left Parties and some smaller parties, are now banking on Tejashwi’s appeal among the young voters. The results will be out on November 10.

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