Updated March 16th, 2024 at 18:46 IST

Lok Sabha Polls: SWOT Analysis of Parties in Bihar

Polling in Bihar will be held in seven phases on April 19, 26, May 7, 13, 20, 25, and June 1, the Election Commission said on Saturday.

JD(U) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. | Image:File Photo/PTI
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Patna: Long seen as a junior ally flourishing in the reflected glory of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), the BJP has come into its own in Bihar, having outperformed the coalition partner in the assembly as well as parliamentary polls.

The party's best performance in a Lok Sabha election was in 2014 when it fought without the JD(U) as an ally and notched up 22 out of the state’s 40 parliamentary seats.

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Polling in Bihar will be held in seven phases on April 19, 26, May 7, 13, 20, 25, and June 1, the Election Commission said on Saturday.

Here is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the major parties in Bihar:

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BJP

Strengths 

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  • A dedicated party cadre, mostly drawn from the RSS and its affiliates like Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, is an asset for the BJP that is envied by allies and adversaries alike.
  • Moreover, the upper castes, who abandoned the Congress during the 1990s' Mandal churn, have been a loyal "vote bank" for the party.

Weaknesses 

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  • A homegrown mass leader who could catch the public imagination has eluded the BJP in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s OBC card notwithstanding, the BJP is still, largely, seen as the party of "forwards", a term used by Biharis for the upper castes who, according to the survey of castes held last year, account for just over 10 per cent of the total population.

Opportunities

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  • With Chief Minister Nitish Kumar past his prime and his JD(U) lacking a second-rung leadership worth the name, the BJP can look forward to filling up the vacuum.

Threats

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  • The induction of turncoats is seen as a "polluting influence" by those in the BJP. ‘High command culture’, once associated with the Congress, is now heard of in the BJP, too, which seems to have gotten used to power and its trappings.
  • The adherence to "Hindutva" as an ideology brings its own share of problems. It scares away Muslims, including the Pasmandas whom Nitish Kumar won over despite being a BJP ally.

RJD

Strengths

  • A formidable Muslim-Yadav support base that guarantees a nearly 30 per cent vote share even when other factors are not working for the party.
  • Founded and headed by Lalu Prasad, the party has now acknowledged his son Tejashwi Yadav as its undisputed leader and the scion's promise of "10 lakh jobs" in the 2020 assembly polls, which he had tried to fulfill in the 17 months he was the Deputy CM, has found sufficient traction among youngsters of Bihar.

Weaknesses

  • The party is largely controlled by Lalu Prasad, Tejashwi Yadav, and their immediate family members who are caught in legal wrangles like the land for jobs scam which is being probed by ED.
  • Though Tejashwi Yadav has been acknowledged as the leader by the cadre, tantrums thrown by siblings like Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti have often forced the RJD supremo's heir apparent to focus his attention more on managing his family than running the party.

Opportunities

  • With a young leader like Tejashwi Yadav at the helm, the party can look for a complete image makeover. Yadav has also seized the opportunity to project himself as a man sensitive to the state's crying need for job creation.
  • Although the ruling NDA is likely to claim all credit for the caste survey, the RJD was sharing power when the exercise was followed by a hike in quotas for all deprived communities, something it can electorally cash in on given its "Mandal" credentials.
  • An alliance with like-minded parties like Congress and the CPI(ML) Liberation and Nitish Kumar's abrupt return to NDA may help the RJD and its allies in garnering the entire chunk of Muslim votes.

Threats

  • The party has been out of power for a long and, as such, containing those in its ranks with vaulting ambitions has been a major challenge. Recently, five of its MLAs crossed over to the NDA, exposing its soft underbelly.
  • The BJP-led coalition has since been claiming that it is “in touch with” many more RJD MLAs and defections if any, ahead of the polls will demoralise not just the party but also its allies.

JD(U) 

Strengths

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  • The hike in quotas for Other Backward Classes and Extremely Backward Classes, following a caste survey ordered by the Nitish Kumar government, is expected to trigger a fresh wave of sympathy for the CM.
  • Despite serving as CM for close to two decades, Nitish Kumar has maintained a clean image, free from corruption scandals.

Weaknesses

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  • Frequent flip flops by Nitish Kumar, who has changed partners as many as three times in about five years, has resulted in a crisis of credibility for the leader who was gunning for the BJP till a few months ago but now is by its side.

Opportunities

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  • The Lok Sabha polls bring a huge opportunity for the JD(U) to prove that its leader, who is on the wrong side of 70, is far from being a spent force.
  • A fine performance by the party in Bihar, if not matched by an equally stupendous show by the BJP across the country, will provide the JD(U) with the much-needed leverage at the Centre.

Threats

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  • Unlike 2019, the NDA at present has a number of smaller parties headed by leaders like Chirag Paswan, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Upendra Kushwaha, all of whom have an axe to grind against Nitish Kumar.
  • The latest realignment with BJP is also likely to cause disgust among Muslims, who have been by and large supporters of RJD, but also not shied away from showering their affection on JD(U) in recognition of Nitish Kumar’s ability to rein in the aggressive Hindutva elements despite a tie-up with the saffron party.
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Published March 16th, 2024 at 18:46 IST