New Delhi: As Bihar prepares to vote in the first phase of the three-phased electoral battle on October 28, a pre-poll survey by India Today-Lokniti has projected the Nitish Kumar-led NDA securing a clear majority, with 133-143 Assembly seats and a vote share of 38 per cent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains the most popular political figure in the state, where the BJP has already made it clear that JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, the chief minister, will lead the alliance, with 61 per cent voters saying they were satisfied with the Central government and 52 per cent saying they were satisfied with Mr Kumar’s performance.
Modi is due to begin his campaign in the state on October 23, and the NDA is hoping that it could impact the “undecided voters” in its favour. Bihar has 243 Assembly seats and the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) had contested the last Assembly polls in 2015 with the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD and the Congress.
In Bihar, where caste plays a crucial role, the Opposition Mahagathbandhan led by RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav is projected to win anywhere between 88-98 Assembly seats, with a vote share of 29-32 percent. The Mahagathbandhan comprises the RJD, Congress, CPI(M), CPI and CPI(M-L). These are the first elections in the state since the late 1990s that Lalu Yadav, considered as a major crowd puller and mass leader, is not in the electoral scene as he was convicted by a special CBI court but is currently admitted in RIMS, Ranchi.
While development is the NDA’s main poll plank, the Opposition is highlighting anti-incumbency against the Nitish Kumar government, including unemployment, Covid-19 mismanagement, ill-preparedness during recent floods and with the migrants who returned during the lockdown.
Though the pre-poll survey shows the NDA alliance — JDU-BJP-HAM-VIP — getting a clear majority, the survey has also shown Mr Kumar’s popularity sliding down by a few notches and anti-incumbency against his government going up by few numbers, but despite these the JD(U) chief’s popularity remains the highest, at 31 per cent, though the figure was at 40 per cent in 2015.
RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav is just four notches below, at 27 per cent. Asked whether or not the JD(U) chief deserves another chance, 31 per cent said yes, 26 said no and 34 per cent favoured a new leader. The Chirag Paswan-led LJP, which decided to go solo and not with the NDA, is projected to win two to six seats and a vote share of five to six percent. Another alliance, the Upendra Kushwaha-led Grand Democratic Secular Front (RLSP-BSP-AIMIM-SJDD-SBSP-JPS), is projected to get a vote share of five to seven per cent.
In 2015, when the JD(U) contested with the Mahagathbandhan, it won by a thumping majority, with 178 seats, with the RJD bagging the highest number of seats, at 80, JD(U) 71 and Congress 27. The NDA had won 58 seats — BJP 53, LJP two, HAM one and RLSP two.