Bihar, which sends 40 MPs to the Lok Sabha, seems headed for mini assembly election within weeks of announcement of the parliamentary election results on May 16.
Responsible for foisting this double whammy on the state is the gathering tribe of party hoppers who are continuing to create vacancies in the 243-member assembly.
By-polls for five assembly seats have already been announced for April 24, April 30 and May 7 and several more vacancies in the assembly are on the anvil, with major political parties on the verge of expelling MLAs who have jumped ship.
JD(U) state president Vashisht Narain Singh on Sunday announced the ruling party’s decision to expel three of its MLAs for open anti-party activities.
The BJP has little choice but to expel two MLAs who have raised the banner of revolt.
The fate of 13 rebel MLAs of Lalu Prasad’s RJD – recognised as a separate group in the assembly - also hangs in the balance and it is likely that the leader of this breakaway group Samrat Chaudhary will be expelled along with about six other legislators.
A predictable phenomenon before every election in the state, the initial trickle of party hopping has turned into a torrent this summer.
State minister Parveen Amanullah junked the JD(U) to contest the LS polls from Patna Sahib as the AAP candidate. Chhedi Paswan quit the JD(U) to contest as the BJP candidate from Sasaram. Former state JD(U) president Mahboob Ali Kaiser quit the party to contest as the LJP candidate from Khagaria. Ram Kripal Yadav quit the RJD to align with the BJP. And the numbers are growing.
“Bihar is witnessing a new phenomenon. Party rebellions have turned into a strategy to pressurise and extract concessions from leaders, including the choice of constituency or seat for a son or daughter. The tactics of the rebel candidates are far more targeted now,” said Professor DM Diwakar, Director of the Patna-based AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences.
If there is one subject most hotly debated in Bihar today, it is the party hopper impact on the state’s polity. For the BJP, the party’s perceived gains from what is described as the Narendra Modi wave in urban centres is seen as being heavily compromised because of the brewing rebellion spearheaded by senior party leaders including Lalmuni Choubey, Chandramohan Rai, Tara Kant Jha and Ashwani Choubey.
About the RJD, the speculation is whether his expected improved performance in the parliamentary polls will help him keep his flock together.
As far as CM and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar is concerned, the very survival of his government seems to be at stake. To that extent, each regional satrap is fighting for stakes higher than just returning the maximum number of party MPs in the Lok Sabha.