Bihar Elections 2010: Development or Caste Equation?
This one is going to be a political post given my home state has just seen one of the momentous events that democracy could provide. Bihar Elections 2010 have culminated on an expected “unexpected” note.
The conduct of the elections were “uneventful” (the term is used with reference to the yesterdays of rampant violence and booth capturing). This was expected given that Election Commission had deployed para-military forces at all the booths (with local police left to patrol thereby reducing their interference). EVM use further made the rigging impossible and results were swiftly declared to the public (incld on the web) preventing any post polls manipulations.
Nitish Kumar returned to power. This was expected. “Unexpected” was Nitish Kumar and BJP sweeping 206 seats out of 243 (political pundits were predicting 170 seats for JDU alliance). This has not only left them stunned but even the NDA alliance is coming to terms with the verdict with disbelief in their eyes!
RJD had come to symbolize whatever was wrong with Bihar and they lost in these elections. That was expected. What was “unexpected” was the decimation of the Laloo’s clan and his party with only 22 seats coming to them reluctantly.
Congress was NOT expected to win the elections. What was “unexpected” was the resurgence of BJP in Bihar elections. BJP in fact is the one that showed the most progress in the state by winning 91 seats out of 102 they fought on. This is a success rate of 89% while JDU’s success rate was only 80%. With an increase of 36 seats over last elections, the party has come to power with no ground breaking successes to their credit.
Today, the State Legislative Assembly stands in control of NDA alliance with no credible opposition. This can be a boon or bane depending on the NDA alliance’s activities in the coming days. The alliance has been making the right noises post elections talking about self control and development issues (e.g. electricity and corruption). The track record of the alliance puts them in good stead for the future.
Nitish has claimed that Bihar has entered into a new phase where development is the main agenda with the electorate and caste politics is no more. Having spoken to a few local politicians and journalists, they quite quote the opposite. Interestingly, social engineering by Nitish by creating a “maha-dalit” section in the society doesn’t point to the same. So, here is what I think happened:
People of the state were really disturbed by the misrule of the RJD. The single point agenda cutting across all caste lines was how NOT to get RJD in power and the only credible alternative to RJD was NDA alliance. People thus chose to vote for NDA as an alternative to RJD. This would explain the resurgence of BJP with no activity to show in the past 5 years in Bihar.
My worry is after 5 years of NDA rule, when Laloo and party are no more the nemesis would Bihar see the return of Caste politics or will it continue to be an electorate that votes for development ? Let’s hope it is the latter!