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Bihar bypolls: Social equations were pivotal in BJP’s Araria, Jehanabad defeats

The RJD’s efforts to highlight a BJP “conspiracy” in convicting party chief Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam cases appeared to have galvanised the Yadav voters

india Updated: Mar 15, 2018 08:55 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
BJP,Bihar,Bihar bypoll
Rashtriya Janta Dal legislators celebrate after the success of their party candidates in Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections outside Bihar Assembly in Patna on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

The bypoll results in three constituencies — two assembly and one Parliament — which gave the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led alliance an effective 2-1 victory over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition in the state brought to fore the caste equations at play in the state.

In the Lok Sabha contest in Araria, RJD’s Sarfaraj Alam defeated his nearest rival Pradeep Kumar Singh of the BJP by over 62,000 votes. The victory for Alam was being attributed by experts to 60% of the electorate belonging to the traditional Muslim- Yadav vote base of the RJD.

Election commission (EC) figures suggest that out of the total 1.7 million voters, Muslims constitute 700,000, and Yadavs 250,000. In two out of six assembly constituencies in the area, Muslims are in majority. After trailing in the first four rounds, Alam took a massive lead spurred by these two assembly segments.

“The vote margin signifies that Muslims voted strongly for the RJD due to their opposition to the BJP for various reasons, including the gau raksha (cow protection) campaign and the triple talaq issue,” said Ramjivan Singh, an expert and analyst from Araria.

He suggested that factors such as liquor prohibition and restrictions on sand mining by the Nitish Kumar government turned the tide against his alliance. The BJP’s internal squabbling in Araria also played a role, he added.

The BJP had tried to play the nationalist card in the region, with the party’s state president Nityanand Rai saying at an election rally in Narpatganj that Araria would turn into an ISI hub if the RJD won. The statement proved counterproductive, locals said.

In the case of Jehanabad, an initial analysis of the voting pattern suggested that the Yadavs had voted aggressively for RJD candidate Kumar Krishna Mohan, alias Suday Yadav. This was complemented by Dalit and Muslim votes.

The RJD’s efforts to highlight a BJP “conspiracy” in convicting party chief Lalu Yadav in the fodder scam cases appeared to have galvanised the Yadav voters . Dalit votes were added after the RJD’s tie-up with the Hindustani Awami Morcha (Secular). “This is a win for both Lalu and Tejashwi (Yadav). Why was Lalu jailed? What was his fault?” said RJD supporter Kumar Rishidev after the result was announced.

Observers feel that former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi played a role in helping the RJD win the seat because of a shift in Dalit votes, particularly his own caste group, the Musahars, from the NDA to the RJD alliance.

In Bhabua, caste was once again instrumental in deciding the fate of BJP’s Rinki Pandey, who registered a comfortable win against her nearest rival Shambhu Singh Patel of the Congress. Experts said that Pandey, a Brahmin, not only got the BJP’s traditional Brahmin and Baniya votes but also managed to get support of extremely backward castes (EBCs), who have been long loyalists of Nitish’s Janata Dal (United).

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 23:14 IST