Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday registered a thumping victory in the Delhi assembly elections. Though the final result has not yet been declared, the official numbers from the Election Commission says that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has won 48 seats and is leading in 14, while BJP has bagged 6 seats and is leading in 2. Congress has drawn blank in the polls much like 2015. Amid victory of AAP, and BJP's defeat, Bihar started trending on Twitter.
Bihar is going to polls in October-November this year. As BJP lost in Delhi, netizens suggested that former party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should campaign "extensively" for upcoming Bihar polls. While some were curious about the role of former JDU vice president Prashant Kishor, who has recently been expelled from his party, others called the upcoming Bihar polls as "crucial" for the saffron party.
In the 2015 assembly polls, CM Nitish Kumar's JDU, then a part of the Mahagathbandhan won 71 seats, Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD won 80 seats, and Congress won 27 seats. The BJP which fought the elections alone after Kumar in 2013 broke the 17-year-old alliance, claiming 'external interference' won a mere 53 seats out of 157 contested. However, the party came back to power after Kumar ditched the Mahagathbandhan and once again stitched an alliance with the old ally.
In 2010 assembly elections, the JD(U) was the ‘big brother’ and had contested 141 seats and the BJP 102 seats out of 243 seats in the state assembly. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the JD(U) had contested 25 seats and the BJP 15 seats. While Nitish has already been declared as leader of the National Democratic Alliance for 2020 Bihar assembly elections, it will be interesing to see the seat-sharing pact of the NDA.
In what is called a political twist months ahead of the assembly polls in Bihar, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who was inducted in the Kumar led- JDU in September 2018, on the advice of then BJP chief Amit Shah, was expelled from the party on January 29. Following his induction in 2019, the JDU fared extremely well in the Lok Sabha polls along with ally BJP, completely decimating Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD. However, his team IPAC also worked for Andhra CM Jagan Mohan Reddy's election campaign even as he held the post of JDU VC. The twist in the events came when his team was roped-in by Mamata Banerjee for 2021 assembly polls in West Bengal, where BJP is the prime opponent and is leading a fierce battle to register a win.
After the Central government passed the contentious citizenship amendment act in December, Kishor openly spoke against the BJP. He not only questioned the former BJP chief Amit Shah but went on to thank former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Congress UP general secretary Priyanka Vadra. After his expulsion, he also challenged Nitish Kumar to retain his CM seat in the polls. While RJD's Tej Pratap Yadav has already invited Kishor to join his party, Kishor has said that he will reveal his plans regarding Bihar once he is in Patna. Notably, he had said that he will speak about his future plans in Patna on February 11 - the result day of Delhi elections.
Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD which once ruled the state seems to be out of the fray in Bihar. Even as the party was white-washed in the Lok Sabha elections last year, party leadership under Lalu's sons Tejashwi and Tej Pratap have only been attacking the Modi and the Nitish government on Twitter. While Tej Pratap has been in news for his divorce case with Aishwariya, Tejashwi had vanished from the scene after Lok Sabha poll drubbing, only to appear days later. The sons, in the absence of his father and party chief Lalu, who was jailed for 14 years in Fodder scam, has failed to sticth a strong narrative against the incumbent. There have also been reports that senior party leaders are disheartened with Tejashwi's and Tej Pratap's attitude and lack of groundwork. Moreover, party's senior leadership has been extending olive branches to Nitish on a number of ocassions.
There have been speculations of an internal rift within the NDA partners too. Though the party won 16 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, they were not allotted a cabinet berth in Modi 2.0. Later, Nitish Kumar said that his party does not need a "symbolic representation" in the cabinet and assured that he is not "angry or unhappy" with the BJP.
Kumar had broken ties with the BJP in June 2013, exactly a week after Narendra Modi was made the BJP's campaign committee chairman, and was later made the prime ministerial candidate of NDA. Next year in June, changing the dynamics of politics in Bihar, Nitish joined hands with the RJD, after Lalu's party gave an outer support to his government, and helped Jitan Ram Manjhi sail as the CM.
The alliance registered a thumping victory in 2015 and Nitish Kumar was sworn in as the CM. However, the grand alliance broke on July 2017, after Lalu's son and then Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav refused to resign depite corruption charges against him. For the sake of "conscience," Nitish Kumar resigned as the CM and broke the alliance on July 26, sealed a deal with old friend BJP and was immediately back at the CM post on July 27, becoming Bihar's CM for the sixth time.
As Delhi polls come as a setback for the BJP, all eyes are set to the Bihar elections. BJP had suffered a setback in Delhi and Bihar in 2015. Even though JDU contested as BJP's ally in Delhi, it is interesting to see if Kumar's party will try to twist the arm of the BJP, and demand more seats in the seat-sharing pact. Incidentally, Kishor had also declared that the JDU will be the "big brother" in the state elections and will contest on more seats. While there has been no talks on seat-sharing as of now, it is important see how both the parties play their politics in the state.
Meanwhile, Nitish Kumar, who is now Bihar's CM for 15 years faces a strong anti-incumbency, political observers also say that there is no face in Bihar except that of Nitish. #Bihar, as pointed out by one of the netizens, is the next political battleground to watch for.