Leader of the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh are keenly watching the Bihar assembly elections, not just because of the ongoing bitter war between the Janata Dal (United)-led Grand Alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, but also because of its possible bearing on chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s prospects here.
Bihar’s five-phase polling ends on November 5 while the results would be declared on November 8.
Prestige of the NDA in general and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular is at stake in the election after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi assembly elections in February this year.
“In both situations, whether NDA wins or faces defeat in Bihar, its impact on the political scenario in Madhya Pradesh in relation to the BJP cannot be ruled out,” said a BJP leader, while speaking with HT.
He said in case NDA wins, the prime minister would be able to salvage his pride he lost in Delhi polls and gain strength and thus Chouhan’s position vis-à-vis Modi would be further weakened. However, in the case of a defeat, Modi may go for an image-building exercise, which may involve taking action against those in the party who brought disrepute to the Central government. The much written about Vyapam scam had earlier held up all parliamentary proceedings for several days.
Another BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that the Bihar assembly elections held importance for Modi as Uttar Pradesh assembly elections would be next, in 2017. Uttar Pradesh, from where Modi won the Lok Sabha seat last year, happens to be a sensitive and important state for the entire saffron brigade, with Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya issues.
He said UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had already started a damage-control exercise ahead of assembly elections there. He has sacked eight ministers from his cabinet and divested nine others of their portfolios in one of the toughest measures he has taken in the past three years.
Will Modi go for a similar measure by taking action against foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhra Raje and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who were involved in controversies in the past few months is a question being debated in the party.
However, political analyst Girija Shankar said the assembly elections would hardly affect Modi’s premeditated course of action.
“He would implement his decision taken earlier, irrespective of the NDA’s win or defeat in Bihar assembly elections. The only difference a win or defeat would bring to implementation of the decision will be the manner in which the action is taken. For, if the party faces defeat, Modi would take action with a subdued tone and in case of a win, he would be a bit more arrogant in implementing his decision — provided that he has decided to take action against them,” said Girija Shankar.