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Reader View: It is only Modi’s goodwill that could help Nitish Kumar in Bihar this time

YourTurn is our weekly feature in which ThePrint's readers share their views or opinions in response to the question of the week.

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New Delhi: The Bihar assembly elections are just two days away. Polling for the 243-member Bihar assembly will be held in three phases between 28 October and 7 November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

We asked readers: Is the Bihar election more about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance record than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s?

Here is what some of them said:

‘Bihar polls going to be played on NDA 2.0 govt’s work’

The Bihar election is a litmus test for the BJP to test its governance in the central government. The election results would also be important to predict the outcome of the 2021 West Bengal polls. The Bihar election is not going to be played on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s but on the NDA 2.0 government’s work and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. If the JD(U)-BJP tie-up fails to sweep the polls, it would be like a domino effect on the BJP in the assembly elections in different states. If the Nitish Kumar government doesn’t get re-elected, it wouldn’t be because of his governance but would solely be on the Modi government’s lack of governance.

Chirag Vishwas Kajale. Twitter: @chiragkajale48

‘Only Modi’s showmanship can sail NDA’s boat to power’

The Bihar election is more about Nitish Kumar, but he will depend a lot on Modi this time. That’s why JD(U) settled for fewer seats than it the number it had last elections. The Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens will take away Muslim votes from Kumar. And he doesn’t have much to show this time with labour migration making things worse for him. This time, only Modi showmanship can sail NDA’s boat to power.

 Suryank Dwivedi, Dhanbad. Twitter: @Suryank_8

‘TINO factor likely to help JD(U)-BJP alliance win’

On 25 March, India announced an unprecedented lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Videos of stranded migrant labourers walking home on foot shook the entire country. The Indian Railways, which used to be the lifeline for migrant labourers, was also shut down. After seven months of gradual unlocking, Bihar is now going to the polls. The state is worst affected by the job losses among migrant labourers, and the health infrastructure there is below par. Even after several distractions by non-issues such as nepotism in Bollywood and amid real issues like free fall of GDP, China and Covid-19, the opinion polls have suggested that the TINO (there is no opposition) factor, which helped the BJP in 2019 general elections, will help the JD(U)-BJP alliance in the 2020 Bihar election too.

 Sivanesh R, Erode, Tamil Nadu

‘CM faces anti-incumbency, his good governance tag is at stake’

People in Bihar are hugely political, but they are not able to write their political destiny. Bihar stands on the edge of an uncharted future. Nitish Kumar’s “sushasan babu (Mr good governance)” tag is at stake as he faces a massive anti-incumbency in his fourth term. He has undermined the Covid-19 and migrant crisis. The “parivartan” brigade is visible across the state as his opponents continue to draw huge crowds in their rallies. Kumar stands aloof and is virtually a recluse. People in Bihar are aspirational today. After better law and order, road connectivity, they want jobs, industry and better education. In this melee, PM Modi has emerged as more popular leader in the state compared to Kumar. He spoke about the valour of Bihari soldiers at Galwan. He has taken to nationalism, cleverly fusing it with Bihari regional pride. The PM’s political charisma still works with voters in Bihar. It is only Modi’s goodwill that may help Kumar this time.

 Sandeep Wanchoo, Gurgaon. Twitter: @swanchoo

‘Elections will clearly be about PM Modi’s governance record’

The Covid-19 situation has been pushing our country toward dark times and with that it’s also showing the incompetence of PM Modi’s government. The Modi government has failed to tackle issues such as the falling economy, rising coronavirus cases, protests by farmers, rising rape cases and also the rapid growth of unemployment. So now, Bihar elections will clearly be about PM Modi’s governance record than CM Kumar’s. BJP has promised to give free Covid-19 vaccines to people in Bihar, in addition to 10 lakh jobs. These are big promises. Hope the BJP government fulfills its promises.

Tanmay Ingale, Mumbai. Twitter: @tanmayingale10

‘CM hiding his report card behind policies of Modi govt’

Over 83.62 lakh people across 16 districts affected by floods, Bihari migrant workers walking thousands of kilometres to reach home during the lockdown, acute shortage of doctors and difficult living conditions do not matter for the voters in Bihar. Therefore, the politicians who cheated them once can expect another chance in the elections. They know people are used to this. They will do everything for personal benefits and career. Nitish Kumar is hiding his report card behind the policies of the Modi government. Hence, it is right that the Bihar elections are more about PM Modi’s governance record than Kumar’s.

 Mohd. Shoaib Khan, Meerut. Twitter: @shoaib93002633

‘The election from most angles is more about Kumar’s governance’

Though the prime minister is way more popular than Kumar seems to be in Bihar today, the CM ‘steals the show’ as far as the issue of ‘governance record’ is concerned. A few weeks ago, the election seemed a walkover for the NDA but as the opposition’s campaign began to gain momentum (especially the hype after Tejashwi Yadav’s 10 lakh jobs guarantee), Kumar, in Yadav’s words, is really looking tired. Things have surely backfired for him. But Kumar resorting to brazenly personal attacks and refusing to get over ‘Lalu’s jungle raj’ shows where the problem lies.

No rhetoric. There is not much to imagine here. Anti-incumbency, disenchantment surely exist. Even the PM mentioned ‘Lalu raj’, praised the central government’s efforts and the alliance but he barely had much to show otherwise, despite his usual nationalism card. Some still allege a BJP-LJP conspiracy.

To conclude, I’d say that though it seems Bihar does not have a good alternative, there is at least an alternative. For a politically obsessed state like Bihar, this is certainly one of the most unique elections. The EBCs (economically backward class), women and upper castes remain the NDA’s core constituencies but it would be interesting to see how Kumar’s poor governance swings them this time round. The results will tell the arithmetic, but forget not, for a CM who effectively denied his aggrieved migrant janata a return home during the worst of times due to whatever considerations, the election from most angles is more about his governance.

 Khushi Barman, Jaipur. Twitter: @whatkhushi

‘Voters make a sharp distinction between state & central polls’

Voters don’t vote on PM’s popularity for state elections. Bihar election is definitely not about PM Modi’s governance and his performance, although BJP is trying its best to make it that way. The recent trend in the electoral history of India is very clear — the voters make a very sharp distinction between state elections/state leaders and central elections/central leaders. This was the case in Delhi and Rajasthan elections. PM Modi was very popular but voters ultimately chose AAP and Congress, respectively, as they know they were voting for a state government. So, even in Bihar, the voters will judge Nitish Kumar’s performance and other alternatives available before casting their votes.

 Vidyuth Chikoti, San Francisco. Twitter: @followvidyuth

‘BJP and JD(U) failed to make Bihar a developed state’

India is the second largest democracy in the world but there is hardly any democracy in the country. This is evident ahead of the Bihar elections. We follow an indirect form of democracy, that is representative democracy where every party fields its candidates. They seek votes on the vision and mission of their parties. Similarly, in Bihar elections also, BJP, JD(U) and RJD are trying to garner votes through their lucrative manifesto and past works. In this manifesto fight, BJP is far ahead of any other party as it has the brand name of Modi. Modi has always acted as a magnet in the Indian elections due to his charismatic leadership skills. In Bihar though, the ground reality is different. His BJP and ally JD(U) have failed abysmally in making Bihar a developed state. There is huge unemployment (46 per cent more than national average of 23 per cent) and poverty. Now it’s time to change this notion about any leader and we should vote using our conscience on the basis of their developmental works done in the past, instead of voting in the name of caste, class and religion.

 Vivek Kumar. Twitter: @vivekku12399160

‘BJP-JD(U) defending itself from attacks by RJD-led alliance’

With people usually looking for what they need in the manifestos of political parties, the latter always try and manipulate their thinking and understanding capabilities by showing whatever they want them to see. Bihar election is not an exception. BJP and JD(U) have tried to do the same thing by making promises that the voters wanted to hear, besides praising Modi and his achievements. But it may not work this time. They are defending themselves from the attacks of the RJD-led alliance on the issue of unemployment and jobs.

 Prajjwal Kasera, Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh. Twitter: @Prajjwal3959

Also read: Reader View: ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign is mostly govt propaganda and PR exercise


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