Bihar Assembly Polls 2020: Will Bihar Embrace A Change?

(By Raju Kumar)

Bihar Assembly Polls 2020 is going to be held in an extraordinary atmosphere as not only the state but the entire world is reeling under pandemic.  

The pandemic gave some unbearable wounds to Bihar revealing poor medical infrastructure in the state. The pandemic exposed BJP-JD(U)-led government’s claim of development. COVID crisis also reminded the decade-old unaddressed issue of migration. Bihar government badly failed to care for people of the state who were living outside. Migrant workers, residing outside Bihar left to walk on the road in order to come to the home state. Over 25 lakh migrant workers returned to Bihar during the lockdown.

In this election, undoubtedly, the anti-incumbency is very strong. It might be the hardest poll fight for Nitish Kumar after 2005. However, he has the support of PM Modi and Modi’s popularity in Bihar cannot be denied.

Lalu’s successor Tejashwi Yadav by and large managed come out from the shadow of his father’s crime-politics nexus. In this election, Tejashwi, showing his political acumen, rightly sticks with relevant issues like- unemployment and corruption.

Tejashwi, in many rallies, took on PM Modi reminding him of his promise of a special package to the tune of Rs 1.25 lakh in 2015. The PM in a very dramatic manner had announced this package in Ara on August 18, 2015. RJD leader is also reminding Nitish Kumar of the promise of industrialization.

The government data shows that Bihar is still a poor state. The annual real per capita income of Bihar is Rs 43,822 about a third of the national average of Rs 1,54,875 in FY 2018-19.  36 million people in Bihar live under poverty line.

Meanwhile, the typical rush of biggies started towards poll-bound Bihar. Leaders from Delhi reached in Bihar and started campaigning. It would be interesting to see whether PM Modi’s recent announcement of a slew of projects for Bihar will help NDA to retain power or not. The PM did the same ahead of the Gujarat polls in 2017.  Absurdly, the ruling alliance is preparing to make actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death a poll agenda when the state has crucial issues such as unemployment, covid19, flood and corruption.

As it happens after every 5 years, Bihar is again receiving a pour of promises from politicians.  The promises those seldom meet. Bihar left a dark era of criminalization of politics and underdevelopment by ending Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD rule for 15 years and embraced JD-U leader Nitish Kumar’s development oriented politics.

Nitish Kumar in his almost 15-year rule by and large failed to change the fate of the state. He successfully managed to polish his clean and ‘Sushasan Babu’ image but the tag of poor state is still attached with Bihar. Once he was one of the front runners for PM post in 2014. And his grip over Bihar politics continues as his prime rival Lalu Prasad Yadav is in jail in fodder scam.  Lalu’s absence definitely made him stronger.

In recent years, voters in Bihar changed the traditional way to pick the politicians on the basis of castes. If voters go by burning issues specially the unemployment, the Assembly Polls 2020 will be really a tough turf for BJP-JD(U) alliance.

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