Is the Nitish factor dying down in BJP’s battle for Bihar?

The JDU’s low seat share and the BJP's distance from Kumar in the election campaign have raised questions.

WrittenBy:Anmol Pritam

Bihar’s political scenario has overturned in past months. Nitish Kumar, who led the INDIA bloc’s first meetup, sided with the BJP. But, in a first, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has allotted fewer seats to Kumar’s JDU than the saffron party in Bihar in the Lok Sabha polls. 

Kumar, who played the role of a big brother in Bihar so far, has purportedly relented to the BJP. Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have avoided sharing stage with the defector. 

Interestingly, in the run-up to Kumar’s BJP switch, he stirred the debate on OBC reservation and even commissioned a caste-based survey in Bihar. The issue was harped on by the opposition and has turned into one of the talking points in the polls.      

But Kumar’s own poll plank is unclear. In his rallies, the JDU chief is contrasting the state of Bihar before his first appointment as chief minister in 2005 with the period after that. He has also been directing offensives at former ally and now rival RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav. 

Notably, with his recent defection, Kumar also split up with the RJD and formed a government with the BJP – swearing in as the CM for the ninth time. 

Now, from being known for good governance to frequently changing stances, Kumar’s public image seems to be in peril. His party's vote share has also been on the decline. 

So, are voters looking for a new alternative? Are the ultra-backward Mahadalit and women – who are counted as Kumar's core voters – slowly moving away? Will they resort to the BJP or RJD? 


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