The first phase of Bihar polls is less than a month away. With the election commission announcement of dates, political space in Bihar has heated up. BJP has been able to finalize its seat sharing pact with partners Paswan, Kushwaha and Manjhi, after lot of issues. Janata alliance has already finalized its seat sharing pact.
BJP has released a list of its candidates and is hence slightly ahead in preparations. Janata alliance has not yet announced candidates for first phase on 12th Oct. 2015. Both alliances are facing internal bickering over seat finalization.
Season of opinion polls. While most polls predict a tight fight, ABP News and India TV polls show Janata winning while India Today shows NDA winning. Common theme is all polls show the winner is just scraping through (<= 125 seats, 122 is required for a simple majority).
My research and on-ground feedback suggests that NDA is expected to win the polls. How many seats they end up with will depend upon the candidate selection, vote transfer from allies, opposition candidate, rebels in each seat, voter turnout etc.
There are five clear reasons which favour a NDA win:
Elections are not all about arithmetic but also about chemistry. Lalu-Nitish are old foes turned friends for the sake of convenience. The whole alliance was based on the logic that JDU (Nitish) + RJD (Lalu) + Congress vote share is more than NDA vote share (45.1% vs 39.1% in 2014 Lok Sabha elections).
This logic proved correct when first time they fought together in bye polls on 10 seats held after Lok Sabha elections, Janata alliance bagged c.46% vote share and went onto win 6/10 seats.
However, in majority of the opinion polls maximum vote share which is being attributed to Janata alliance is 43% while BJP is seen holding onto / increasing its vote share (39% to 42% range).
This is a clear sign arithmetic not working, distrust between allies Lalu-Nitish, Lalu-Congress, non-united campaign impacting the alliance. The campaign is very disjointed with Lalu taking about Mandal 2 while Nitish harping on development. Congress appears lost with no strategy and hoping to piggyback on Nitish-Lalu charisma. It hopes to lead an anti-Modi alliance in the center on the lines of Janata Party vs Congress tussle in 1977 after emergency.
Assembly elections in Bihar have been historically held in proximity to the Lok Sabha polls. The last three state polls have been held after a gap of 1-1.5 years from Lok Sabha elections. Historical trend (from 1951-2014) shows that most of the times the party getting maximum seats in the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar goes on to win the state polls. This trend favours NDA as it swept the last Lok Sabha polls by winning 31 / 40 seats.
Caste system is deep rooted in Bihar. This elections is more about getting the caste combination right than development (sad but true). MLAs from Upper caste, Dalit / Mahadalit and Bania community account for half of the strength of last few assemblies in Bihar. 78% upper castes, 42% Dalit / Mahadalit and 53% Bania community voted for NDA in Lok Sabha. With the entry of Manjhi Dalit / Mahadalit votes expected to increase to 60%-65%.
In this elections, Upper castes, Dalits / Mahadalits and Banias are expected to overwhelmingly back NDA and there are more chances of MLAs from this community winning on NDA ticket rather than Janata alliance ticket.
This election is clearly polarized with majority Upper castes, Dalits / Mahadalits, Banias, Kushwahas and Koeris backing NDA accounting for 45-46% of population. On the other hand majority of Muslims, Yadavs, Kurmis are backing Janata alliance (accounting for 35-36% of population). Most backward classes accounting for 17-18% hold the key.
NDA is expected to gain 2-3% additional vote share from Mahadalits / Dalits (15%-20% of 16% population) because of Manjhi. Another 1% increase is expected to come from Koeris / Kushwahas (10%-15% of 8% population).
This takes NDA vote share to c. 43%-44% range which is enough to win even a neck to neck fight. Janata on the other hand is expected to lose some vote share (minimum 1%) to Owaisi party. 15% of pro-development voters with Nitish are expected to turn away from Nitish because of Lalu denting another 2% vote share of Janata parivar (15% of 16% vote share of JDU in Lok Sabha).
In any election, 45% vote share is enough to win a seat. There are 75- 80 odd seats / assembly segments where NDA received >45% vote share in Lok Sabha polls (2014) and last assembly polls (2010). The corresponding number for Janata alliance is 55- 60. This gives a big headway of 20-25 seats to NDA which could be crucial in a tight elections.
The momentum is clearly with NDA. Successive opinion polls of channels which predict a Janata win are showing a narrowing gap between the two parties not only in terms of seats / vote share but also for most preferred CM candidate where Sushil Modi is seen catching up on Nitish.
All the above signs favour NDA and it is expected to win the polls as per Politicalbaaba opinion.
Stay glued for projections……