Bihar assembly elections 2020: Exit polls predict victory for Tejashwi Yadav led grand alliance

Challenges ahead for RJD in Bihar

Politics

November 9, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Bihar assembly elections 2020: Exit polls predict victory for Tejashwi Yadav led grand alliance

With a day to go for counting of votes in Bihar elections, most exit polls are handing out a majority to Tejashwi Yadav led grand alliance (Image credits: Facebook/Tejashwi Yadav)

The migrant crisis, increased unemployment & recasting RJD’s image as a trustworthy political party in Bihar will be among the top priorities for the young RJD leader, if exit poll predictions about the verdict of Bihar Assembly elections translate into reality on November 10.

With a day to go for counting of votes in Bihar elections, most exit polls are handing out a majority to Tejashwi Yadav with Nitish Kumar far behind. As per the polls, with two of the six available giving the grand alliance led by him a sweeping victory in the assembly elections, one indicating the RJD alliance is most likely to get a majority and two others giving it an edge in a close battle.

If the polls prove to be correct, Tejashwi Yadav could be the next chief minister of Bihar, marking the end of 15-year rule by Nitish Kumar, who switched twice between NDA and the Grand Alliance, in order to retain his seat. Yadav’s projected win is being tied to the disastrous impact of Covid-19 pandemic on Bihar’s economy, largescale joblessness as well as Kumar’s total silence when millions of migrant workers from Bihar were forced to find their own way home, including walking for hundreds of km, during the lockdown.

“Discontent over jobs, the migrant crisis, the handling of the coronavirus and floods, could be the undoing of the chief minister who prided himself as an able administrator,” says DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies in state capital Patna.

If the polls predicting the grand alliance’s win prove accurate, it would be the first time since 2005 that the RJD would have its chief minister in the state. It would also mean that the trend of the BJP doing worse in state polls than in national elections continues.

Many of the polls did not give a break-up of seats by individual parties in the alliance, but those that did predict that the RJD would retain its position as the single largest party in the state assembly and the BJP would finish second, thus becoming the senior partner in the NDA for the first time in Bihar assembly.

If accurate the exit polls mark a tectonic shift from the national election held last year, when the NDA won 39 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. But signs were visible fairly early on during the campaign as Tejashwi Yadav, 31, emerged a huge magnet, especially among the youth, drawing loud cheers at every rally with his promise of signing off on a million government jobs at his very first cabinet meeting.

Fulfilling this lofty promise is but only one of the several challenges that wait for the young RJD leader in the state.

Resolving the migrant crisis

Along with neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Bihar was one of the biggest recipients of reverse migration that happened earlier in the year due to the lockdown. Nearly 3 million migrants reached Bihar from various parts of the country. Poignant scenes of migrants walking barefoot for hundreds of kilometres had gone viral on social media.

Migrants crisis bihar

Nearly 3 million migrants reached Bihar from various parts of the country (MIG Photos/Varsha Singh)

As the election coincides with the festive season, many more migrants have come home for Diwali and Chhath (a regional festival). “When I voted for RJD last week, all I could think of was how my husband managed to return within a month of the lockdown and doesn’t plan to migrate back to Mumbai in near future. He is still jobless and hopes to find some regular work,” says 28-year-old Sarita Devi, domestic help and wife of a migrant worker. She further says that she has very high hopes from the winner of the state assembly elections and demands nothing except a permanent job for her husband.

Tackling unemployment

Bihar has traditionally had high unemployment due to a low rate of industrialisation and its growing population that’s now about 104 million. Bihar lost several mineral-based units when Jharkhand became a separate state in 2000. Successive state governments have not been able to create enough jobs, forcing millions to migrate to different parts of the country in search of work.

At a time when unemployment and falling economy are national issues, its echo in the Bihar election is quite natural.

Bihar election unemployment

At a time when unemployment and falling economy are national issues, its echo in the Bihar election is quite natural

Bihar’s unemployment rate had increased to 46.6 pc in April 2020, as the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

“Unemployment is not restricted to the migrant workers who have returned to their villages. It is also the most important factor for the youth in the state. We have seen the current CM Nitish Kumar not delivering his promise of providing enough jobs and hence we don’t want him back. It is undeniable that minimising unemployment should be the priority for Yadav if he expects continuous support from the youth,” says 24-year-old Aman Yadav, who lost his job as a clerk in a private company in the capital Patna during the lockdown.

Recasting the image of RJD

Even as Tejashwi Yadav, the young RJD leader and chief ministerial candidate of the grand alliance has attracted thousands to his rallies and a lot of support from the youth, residents of Bihar feel that it is very important for Yadav to create a new and clean image for his party.

Perceived as a party which could not deal with corruption and lawlessness when it was in power for about 15 years before Kumar won in 2005, RJD faces a lot of backlash and attack from the opposition for the same. At a time when RJD’s previous leader and Tejashwi Yadav’s father, Lalu Yadav, is still serving his jail term for corruption, recasting RJD as a reliable and trustworthy partly becomes very important.

“Previously Lalu Yadav led–RJD carried an image of lawlessness and corruption in the state. If the exit polls turn out to be true and Yadav becomes the next CM, it is extremely important for him to take RJD party out of the shadow of its previous performances,” says Mukesh Shah, a 41-year-old school teacher from Patna, Bihar.

So far, Tejashwi had lived and led the life of a politician in the shadow of Lalu. However, in this campaign, right from the word go, it has been Tejashwi’s show, almost singlehandedly and if he does manage to lead the Grand Alliance to a win, it would mark a new chapter in Bihar’s politics. Bihar needs a new perspective in terms of governance and it may indeed be time for the old warhorses to yield space to the younger lot.

“Lalu Yadav remained absent from election campaigns for good and Tejashwi has built a huge youth vote base for himself on his own. Now, if the party learns from its previous mistakes and gains the trust of the people, it will definitely prove to be a better alternative than NDA for the state and will remain in power for long,” adds Shah.

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