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Battle of

Bihar
Election 2015
Stories, Statistics & Insights

Suryakiran Tiwari
Subhash Chandra
Table of Contents
PROLOGUE .....................................................................................................................................................................3
Bihar Polls A Curtain Raiser ....................................................................................................................................4
Caste is cast in stone in Bihar politics........................................................................................................................9
The Economic Dimension to Voting in Bihar ...........................................................................................................13
How did Nitish perform as CM? Pluses and Minuses for both alliances to exploit .................................................15
TACTICAL AND STRATEGIC NUANCES ..........................................................................................................................24
Why are women very important for BJP in Bihar? ..................................................................................................25
The misleading cues from bye-elections 2014 ........................................................................................................27
Is it the end of saga called Lalu?..............................................................................................................................29
Will Muslims & Mahadalits decide the fate of Bihar polls? ....................................................................................34
Decoding the seat sharing between Lalu-Nitish in Bihar ........................................................................................39
Probable Spoilers in Bihar Elections ........................................................................................................................44
Will Manjhi be the Mountain Man for BJP in Bihar? ...........................................................................................47
BJP Challenges and what they must do to win Bihar? ............................................................................................52
THE GAMES ..................................................................................................................................................................61
What makes Bihar such a close and unpredictable election? .................................................................................62
Phase 1: Overview ...................................................................................................................................................66
Phase 2: Overview ...................................................................................................................................................70
Phase 3: Overview ...................................................................................................................................................74
OPINION POLLS ............................................................................................................................................................78
NDA marginally ahead in final opinion polls, but can they win the election? .........................................................79
How Bihar Elections are uncannily similar to Delhi Elections? ...............................................................................82
Satta Bazaar and Bihar elections .............................................................................................................................84
ELECTION CAMPAIGN ..................................................................................................................................................85
Is Nitish Kumar unnecessarily muddling his strategy in Bihar? ...............................................................................86
The unfortunate negativism in the Bihar campaign ................................................................................................89
THE VOTING .................................................................................................................................................................91
Bihar Phase 1: Voter Turnout analysis ....................................................................................................................92
Are things really bad for the BJP after phase 1 .......................................................................................................95
What May be Working & What May Not be Working for Nitish in Bihar Polls? (Phase-1 and 2 Analysis) .............99
PROLOGUE
Bihar Polls A Curtain Raiser

The Bihar elections are one of the most crucial elections under PM Modi. Nitish Kumar after his

divorce from BJP is fighting to keep his CM chair by aligning with his foe turned friend Lalu

Yadav. The polls are expected to be a cracker because while Nitish leads the popularity charts, the

BJP led by the Modi-Shah partnership has developed a strong caste coalition which enabled them

to sweep the Lok Sabha polls. Its a do or die battle for both Nitish and Amit Shah. A win will

strengthen further the hands of Modi and Shah. A loss will increase the murmuring voices of
dissent in the party.

Bihar is the 3rd most populous State in the country with 10.4 crore people. Area wise it ranks 13th.

It has the second highest density of population in the country at 1,100 per km square (3 times the

national average) second only to Delhi. Bihar has low literacy levels at 61% (28th in the country).

The State has given the country great politicians like Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Jai Prakash Narayan.

The JP Movement against Mrs Indira Gandhi has its roots in the State. Jharkhand was carved out

of Bihar in year 2000, whereby its Lok Sabha seats reduced from 54 to 40 and its Vidhan Sabha

seats from 324 to 243. The state has the second largest population of Muslims in the country

(16.9%).

The state was a Congress bastion from 1951-1967 with a support base comprising of upper caste,

harijans / dalits and muslims. Bihar was amongst the 9 States in India which elected a non-

Congress Chief Minister in 1967 after Karpuri Thakur (Socialist Party) persuaded Opposition to

unite and put up a single candidate against the Congress. The period from 1967-72 saw massive

instability in the state 9 chief ministers and 2 stints of Presidents rule. In 1972 elections,

Congress won with a handsome majority, bagging 33% vote share ending period of instability.
After Emergency, the Jai Prakash movement gained momentum across the country and in 1977

again a non-Congress Government was formed in Bihar. Janata Party (a broad coalition of Bhartiya

Lok Dal, Bhartiya Jan Sangh, Socialist Party and Congress O) swept the polls bagging 214 / 324

seats with a 42.7% vote share in line with the mood at the center after Emergency. After the split

in Janata Party (Bhartiya Jana Sangh the parent organization of BJP left this block along with

Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram etc), it became weakened and Congress bounced back in Bihar in

1980.

In 1985, after Indira Gandhis death the Congress got re-elected riding on sympathy wave, still the

party was unable to win more than 40% of the vote. The years between 1985 and 1990 saw the

comeback of erstwhile Janata Party rechristened as Janata Dal under Vishwanath Pratap Singh.

Janata Dal formed a social coalition of OBCs, Yadavs, Muslims to win the elections in 1990 and

Lalu Yadav became the Chief Minister of Bihar. Janata Dal emerged as the single largest party

with 122 seats, 41 seats short of majority in 1990 and formed the Government with the support of

communists and Independents.This started the Lalu era in Bihar jab tak rahega samose mein

aloo tab tak rahega Bihar mein Lalu he ruled the State directly and indirectly for 15 years from

1990-2005. When he was accused in Fodder Scam and had to go to jail, his wife Rabri became the

Chief Minister of the State. Rabri remained the CM from 1997 to 2005. If the Gandhis can do it,

why not the Yadavs. In 1995, Janata Dal / Lalu got an absolute majority with 167 seats. In 2000,

it was a hung Assembly. Lalus Rashtriya Janata Dal emerged as the single largest party with 124

seats. NDA which comprised Samata Party, Janata Dal United and BJP got 121 seats. In a

controversial decision, Governor appointed Nitish as CM. He failed to get the numbers and

resigned within 10 days. Lalu again formed the govt. in the state.

Janata Dal split into Rashtriya Janata Dal (Lalu), Samata Party (George Fernandes & Nitish) and
Janata Dal (United) led by Sharad Yadav. Samata Party partnered with BJP (its earlier friends in

Janata Party) to take on Lalu in Bihar. In 2003, before the State elections in 2005, Nitish-led
Samata Party merged with Sharad Yadav-led Janata Dal United. In 2005 voters have a hung

verdict. Polls were again held after 6 months in which NDA defeated Lalu Prasad Yadav

handsomely ending his jungle raj and Nitish became the Chief Minister with 143 / 243 seats. The

State had historically been backward and was part of the infamous BIMARU states. Post the

establishment of the NDA Government (BJP + JDU) in 2005, Bihar registered amongst the highest

GDP growth in the country (of course, low base effect has played a role). In 2010, people voted

for NDA again and they got 206 / 243 seats. Lalu Prasad Yadav was reduced to 22 seats. His party

didnt even get the Leader of Opposition post similar to current Congress like situation in
Parliament. The polls witnessed clear support for the NDA with few close contests and was clearly

one sided (Only 40 / 243 seats saw victory margins of <5,000 votes).

An important point to note is that the break-away factions of the erstwhile Janata Parivaar (BJP,

JDU and RJD) have maintained / increased their vote share since 1990. They together have

achieved vote share similar to what their vote share in 1977 was (42%). Its another matter that

they have been fighting separately. Congress meanwhile has seen its vote share evaporate from

39% in 1985 to 8% in 2010. It won only 4 seats in 2010. Its ironical that for the fight in 2015

partners have changed. Earlier it used to be Lalu vs Nitish & BJP. Now it will be Lalu & Nitish vs

BJP. How times change! Thats why its said impossible is possible in politics.

With his conviction in the fodder scam Lalus political career was almost over. Then came a

reprieve when Nitish backed out of NDA before the Lok Sabha polls and received a huge jolt in

Lok Sabha elections when his party managed only 2 seats down from 22 (in 2009) and NDA went

on to win 31 seats. JDU vote share was only 16% while RJD+Congress+NCP vote share was 30%.

NDA got 39% vote share. This prompted Lalu & Nitish to settle their differences and come

together as arithmetically their aggregate vote share of 46% is more than NDA. If Nitish was with
NDA this elections was a no brainer. However their coming together under grand Janata alliance

has made the elections interesting.


Chart 1: Bihar Assembly elections results from 1985 plus Lok Sabha 2014
a. The RJD which has been in power between 1990 and 2005 has never won more than 30% of the

vote in Bihar. But a fragmented environment (like UP now) ensured that RJD was able to be re-

elected again and again until 2005 October.

b. In the period between 2000 and 2005, the Bihar economy (On account of droughts) had severely

underperformed (Chart 2) in comparison to rest of the country leading to vote share losses for the

RJD (Rabri Devi) and significant gains for BJP and JD(U). The improved governance between
2005 and 2013 and the Modi wave in 2014 benefited the BJP leading to doubling of its votes

between 2005 and 2014. The JD (U) too managed to increase its vote share significantly during

the period 2005-10 on account of the good governance by Nitish Kumar

c. A large proportion of voters (26%) were still voting outside the mainstream parties until 2010.

However, the BJP managed to reduce this to 16% during the Lok Sabha election in 2014.
Chart 2: Deposit growth between elections, 1990-2010 and vote share of leading parties

The period between 2000 and 2005 was the worst from an economic perspective (due to droughts

and poor governance) since 1990 leading to a defeat for the RJD. The BJP-JD (U) alliance was re-

elected after restoring order and the economy after 2005.


Caste is cast in stone in Bihar politics
In the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Nitishs calculated move to part with NDA proved to be a

grave mistake. JDU bagged only 2 seats, down 20 seats from its 2009 performance. BJP led NDA

bagged 31 / 40 seats. NDA (BJP + Paswan + Kushwaha) got a vote share of 39%, UPA (RJD +

Congress + NCP) 30% and JDU 16%. The 15% vote share of upper castes belonging to BJP moved

away from JDU which led to its downfall.

Caste wise voting pattern in Lok Sabha polls 2014 as per CSDS data:

Caste Particulars % Population Lok Sabha 2014 Polling Trend


Upper Caste 15.0
Brahmins 5.0
Rajput 3.0
78% upper caste voted for BJP+. Balance: NA
Bhumihar 6.0
Kayastha 1.0
Backward Caste 26.2
Kurmi 4.0 30% Kurmi & Koeri voted for JDU & 30% for BJP+,
Koeri 8.0 RJD+: NA
Yadav 14.2 64% Yadavs voted for RJD+, 18% each for JDU & BJP+.
Most Backward Caste 24.0 (4.0) 53% MBC voted for BJP+, 18% for JDU & 10% for RJD+.
Dalits 6.0 42% Dalits & Mahadalits voted for BJP+, 20% for JDU &
Mahadalits 10.0 10% for RJD+.
Muslims 16.5 64% Muslims voted for RJD+. Balance: NA
Adivasis 1.3 NA
Others 1.0 NA
Total 100.0

64% of people who voted for NDA said they were satisfied with development work of Nitish

government. JDU is banking on them to sail it through. One of the champions of caste based

politics having created 2 new caste categories Most Backward Classes and Mahadalits for
electoral gains, he forgot that caste is cast in stone in Bihar politics. People vote on basis of caste

first and then comes development.


BJP managed to craft a social coalition of Upper Castes, Dalits, Kushwahas and Most Backward

Classes accounting for 55% of state population. Lalu managed to hold onto his Muslim-Yadav

vote bank accounting for 31% of population. Nitish managed to get small chunks of Koeri / Kurmi

/ Yadavs / MBCs and Dalits / Mahadalits. There was no caste group which voted overwhelmingly

for Nitish and JDU, not even Kurmis to which caste Nitish belongs.

The approximate caste wise vote share derived on basis of CSDS data is as following:

Caste BJP (%) JDU (%) RJD (%) Others (%)


Upper Caste 12 1 1 1
Kurmi / Koeri 4 4 4 1
Dalits / Mahadalits 7 3 2 5
Most Backward Class 13 4 2 5
Yadavs 3 3 9 0
Muslims 1 1 11 4
Others 1 0 1 0
Total 39 16 30 15

Despite Nitish being a Kurmi leader, JDU bagged just 30% vote share from Kurmi and Koeri caste

voters in Lok Sabha. Only 18% of most backward classes voted for JDU & 10% for RJD in Lok

Sabha despite Nitish being the architect of this caste segment.

64% of Yadavs voted for RJD + Congress in Lok Sabha. 12% voted for JDU. Pappu Yadav has
moved out of RJD and formed his own party. He may dent some of part of RJD vote bank in North

Bihar. Defeat of Lalus daughter Misa Bharti in Lok Sabha by uncle Ram Kirpal Yadav shows

Lalu does not enjoy the same clout among Yadavs anymore.

Only 30% of Mahadalits / Dalits voted for JDU and RJD in Lok Sabha. Entry of Jiten Manjhi in

NDA could spoil Nitish efforts of increasing vote share from this segment.
64% of Muslims voted for RJD in Lok Sabha and 21% for JDU. Muslim votes are likely to

consolidate in favour of Janata Parivar alliance. This is clearly the segment where Janata Parivar

has a significant edge than NDA.

Others / smaller parties / independents got 15% vote share in Lok Sabha polls. Majority of this

came from Muslims, Dalits / Mahadalits and MBCs.

Composition of Voters of Various Parties in LS 2014

BJP (approx. 2/3rd voters are from Upper Caste & MBCs)

Others, 1%

Yadav,
8%

Upper caste,
MBC, 33% 31%

Dalit /
Mahadalit, Kurmi/Koeri,
18% 10%
JDU (approx. 50% of voters are from Kurmi / Koeri, Muslims & upper castes)

Upper caste, 6%

Muslim, 21%
Kurmi/Koeri,
24%
Yadav, 12%

Dalit /
Mahadalit,
MBC, 18%
18%

RJD (2/3rd voters are from Muslim & Yadav communities)

Others, 7% Upper caste, 3%


Kurmi/Koeri,
10%
Dalit /
Mahadalit,
7%

Muslim, 37% MBC, 7%

Yadav, 30%
The Economic Dimension to Voting in Bihar

While it is fairly clear that the MGB alliance is quite dependent on the OBC and Muslim vote to

win Bihar, there is also an economic basis on which voters are voting in Bihar. Amongst the less

affluent districts, the MGB alliance enjoys a significant gap over the BJP alliance. The gap reduces

as the wealth increases and the proportion of Muslims comes down.

It is now a well-known fact the Bihar has been outpacing the country and is now growing at a pace

unheard of in the last quarter century. This is reflecting in stupendous deposit growth as well as

satisfaction with the Chief Minister (March 2014). Only recently a survey published by ABP-

Nielsen reiterated the Nitish edge leadership in Bihar. The High Satisfaction ratings for Nitish have

continued till this day and give the MGB alliance an edge as far as leadership is concerned.
SWOT Analysis of MGB Alliance
STRENGTHS WEAKNESS
- Alliance has declared their CM candidate - Distrust among the 2 cadres JDU & RJD
- Nitish leads popularity charts as most suitable CM - Poor image of Lalu corruption in fodder scam &
choice jungle raj during his 1990-2005 tenure
- Good development work by Nitish during 2005-14 - Transfer of votes from JDU to RJD and RJD to
- Arithmetic favours the alliance (45% vote share > JDU candidates in all constituencies may not
happen as envisaged
39% vote share of NDA)
- Polarization of Muslim vote bank in favour of - Rebel candidates in both RJD & JDU camps
alliance - Forward caste accounting for 15% of population
may not vote for Nitish because of Lalu
- 2.5 years of Nitish govt. rule after JDU broke
away from NDA has seen political turmoil (Manjhi
episode)
- Nitish has lost high moral ground after tie up with
Lalu

OPPORTUNITIES THREATS
- No clear leadership / CM candidate of NDA - Expelled leader Manjhi could dent into Mahadalit
votes which account for 10% of population
- Seat distribution among NDA partners was painful
- Pappu Yadav expelled from RJD could dent into
- Nitish govt. provided scholarships to financially Yadav vote bank in North Bihar
weaker sections among upper caste Hindus
- Sushil Modi of BJP catching up with Nitish on the
- NDA govt. honeymoon period over pressure popularity charts
beginning to show with Lalitgate / Vyapam / Beef
episode / writers returning awards etc. - BJP able to take credit for development in Bihar
- Delhi elections showed BJP can be defeated by a - BJP able to sell the story that same govt. at the
united opposition or when no split of votes take place center and in the state will lead to better
development of Bihar
- The Modi effect
How did Nitish perform as CM? Pluses and Minuses for both alliances to exploit

Metric 1: Per Capita Income


Bihar is the fastest growing major state in India and per capita incomes have grown much faster

than ever during the last 5 years.

Metric 2: Rural Road network


Overall rural road network has increased more than 3 fold while paved road network has almost

doubled. This is very healthy growth when compared to other states.

Metric 3: Power Availability in Million Units


The story is a mixed bag here with Power availability increasing almost two fold but power deficit
remaining in the 30% range.
Metric 4: Inflation over the last 3 years

Bihar is the worst performing state amongst all major states when it comes to Inflation. In fact,

its inflation per annum is a full % point higher than the national average. High income growth

over the last 5 years plus drought in the last two years has placed Bihar in a relatively

uncomfortable position as far as inflation is concerned

High Inflation is likely to impact female voters who manage household budgets. With slowing

wage growth as well, 25% of voters are likely to be most negatively affected
Metric 5: Rural Wage growth
Owing to the squeeze in MSPs as well as the poor monsoon in the last 2 years, rural income

growths have collapsed over the last 12 months.

Dramatic slowdown in wage growth would impact 30-35% of Bihar voters who may be engaged

in such professions. Many of them are OBCs and Dalits. However, the older amongst these voters

(30+, 20-25% of voters in Bihar) are more likely to be tolerant to short term problems as they have

seen worse days under other Governments. Therefore about 10% of the voting population are likely

to be negatively impacted.
Metric 6: Savings Deposit growth
A combination of slowing economic growth, slowing rural wages and above average inflation has

damaged savings growth this year. Savings growth this year is the lowest in the last 5 years

Lower savings growth is likely to impact urban male voters who are most likely to be in a position

to save money. This would constitute about 10% of all voters.

Metric 7: Education

Bihar is one of the worst performing states when it comes to Colleges and ITI institutions. Both
are routes to employment and the opportunities into get this education is not adequate at this

moment

Poor quality of education and Training is likely to impact younger voters across all caste groups.

This group is unlikely to be in favour of the ruling party. The size of this group is about 20% of

the voting population


In sum, Nitish has done very well overall with strong economic growth, significant improvement
in infrastructure and therefore an overall improvement in well-being. However, recent

deterioration in the economy (Wage growth and Inflation) would hurt urban middle class voters

and rural non-farm labour. Further, poor improvements on education and training would seriously

impact young voters. This sort of mixed performance is playing out on the ground as well with

urban middle class, Hindu women, young voters (all castes) and LBC/Dalit voters (Non-farm

labour) all aligning against the Nitish Govt (By a small or large majority).

Metric 8: Law and Order

Lalus tenure from 1990-2005 has been termed as jungle raj by his detractors. The law and order

situation in the state was pretty bad and kidnapping for ransom / looting thrived almost like

industries. In rural Bihar / villages, people actually were afraid of moving out of their houses in

night. I remember while I was in school and used to go to my native place in South Bihar during

summer holidays, parents were very particular about our returning to home before sunset after

play. I recently visited my village after 15 years and can vouch there is no such fear nowadays.

While no doubt, the economy has done much better under Nitish led National Democratic Alliance

(NDA) government after 2005 (this can easily be tracked by the GDP growth numbers published),
recent newspaper articles has created a doubt in the minds of people over the general perception

that jungle raj has ended in Bihar under Nitish.

To get to the bottom, I have carried out some research on data available on Bihar Police Website.

On the website, cumulative crime data for Bihar from the years 2001 upto June 2015 is available.

However, a note of caution, Aaron Levenstein has said, Statistics are like bikinis. What they

reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. Data can be interpreted to suit a persons need.
In this piece I will try to answer a few questions related to law & order situation.

Did crime rate increase in Bihar during Lalu-Rabri tenure (1990-2015)?

While the general perception is a big yes. In reality, it is almost at the same pace as in a state

like Gujarat
Has the crime rate reduced during Nitish rule in Bihar?

The number of crimes committed in Bihar has been rising steadily since 2001, increasing from

32,500 levels to 56,000 in 2014. These crimes include murder, rape, riots, dacoity, kidnapping etc.

So one can conclude law and order situation has worsened during Nitish rule (2006-14). But this

doesnt tell the entire story. We will see why. Thefts and riots account for majority of the total

crimes (65%) in 2015 vs 55% in 2001.

The data on Bihar Police Website is available from Jan. 2001 to June 2015. I have broken this

period under different governments to calculate average rate of a particular crime during various

tenures. June 2015 figures have been annualized to arrive at full 2015 figures.

In any year, if a Chief Minister has been in power for more than 6 months, the year is assumed to

fall during his / her tenure. In 2005, Bihar was under Presidents rule for more than 6 months. In

June 2013, Nitish party Janata Dal United (JDU) broke away from BJP and hence 2013 is

considered to be Nitish (alone) tenure as he was CM for more than 6 months. In May 2014, Manjhi

became CM after Nitish resigned following Lok Sabha debacle and he was CM till Feb. 2015

backed by Lalus Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Congress. Since both Nitish and Manjhi belong

to JDU it has been clubbed under one tenure. Though relations between Nitish-Manjhi soured later,

Nitish and JDU cant escape responsibility from Manjhis deeds. Average crime rates during a

particular tenure per crime type have been calculated to do the analysis.

Murder (-10%), dacoity (-55%), robbery (-35%), kidnapping for ransom (-20%), road dacoity (-

14%), road robbery (-20%), bank dacoity (-42%) and bank robbery (-74%) have substantially

reduced during Nitish (entire tenure) compared to Rabris tenure.


Burglary (+30%), theft (+90%), riots (+33%), kidnapping (+156%) and rape (+23%) has increased

during Nitish tenure. While 8 crime rates have reduced, 5 of them have increased during Nitish

tenure. Alternatively, 8 crime rates were higher during Rabris tenure and 5 crime rates were

comparatively lower vis--vis Nitish tenure.

Chart: No. of crimes during 2001-2015 (Source: Bihar Police Website)

Table: Average crime rate per crime type during various Chief Ministerial Tenures
Has the number of convictions increased during Nitish rule in Bihar?

There is another data available which is on conviction of criminals. But this is available only from

2006-12. Again cant compare as data for Rabri rule NA. On a standalone basis, number of

convictions increased during Nitish rule from 2006-12, though last 2 years there has been a decline.

Once can try to calculate the conviction rate (no. of crimes divided by no. of convictions) in a

particular year. However, charge sheets for crimes committed during a year are usually not filed
within the same year, hence it is difficult to calculate this ratio as convictions may relate to crimes

committed during previous years.

No. of convictions during 2001-2015 (Source: Bihar Police Website)

Law and order situation is a big issue in Bihar elections and all parties would use the data points to their
advantage. Nitish would claim crime has reduced during his tenure. BJP would claim crime has increased
post it left Nitish govt. Lalu would say crime has increased during Nitish rule when he was with BJP, since
then it has reduced. Only the people on the ground are the best judge.
TACTICAL AND STRATEGIC NUANCES
Why are women very important for BJP in Bihar?
One way the BJP can increase vote share in this election is to ensure higher voter turn out amongst

hindu women who tend to vote for them. The chart below shows

a. Voter turnout of women (Women's TO) drops in line with % of Muslims (Muslim share) in the

constituency

b. BJP's vote share increases at the same time as women turnout and Muslim proportion in

constituencies reduces

The second chart shows that gap between Male and Female voter turnout reduces as female voter

turnout and Muslim proportion in the constituency increases (The highest gap is in Patna Sahib
which has one of the lowest Muslim proportions and the lowest women's turnout). The reducing
pattern can be explained by the hypothesis that the balance between male and female voters

amongst Muslim voters is much better than amongst Hindu voters. Given the BJP's poor

performance in constituencies with high Muslim proportions, an increased Hindu women voting

turnout in constituencies with higher Muslim proportions may have a significant impact on

the election in Bihar.


The misleading cues from bye-elections 2014
The predominant hypotheses about the Bihar bye elections last year has varied from those

portraying a doom for the BJP because of the new alliance or those dismissing this as an aberration

given that these are not so important bye elections. However, in my view there are 3 different

nuances about the Bihar bye elections that hasn't been captured by other analysis....

a. Voter Turnout matters


There were approximately 14% fewer voters in the bye elections versus the Lok Sabha elections.

While the NDA had approximately 24% fewer votes, the RJD-JD (U)-INC alliance had 3% fewer

votes.

So while the RJD led alliance had mostly retained their votes, many BJP voters did not even turn

up on Election Day. This could be attributed to either the importance of the elections itself or the

lack of substantial issues, unlike the Lok Sabha Elections

b. Candidates matter
This is intuitive but a reading of the data throws valuable insights

Number of ACs won by the RJD alliance during the 2014 LS election: 3, Number of ACs retained
by the RJD during the 2014 bye election: 1

Number of ACs with huge swing (10%+) in favour of BJP: 2

Number of ACs with huge swing (10%) against the BJP: 2

AC-Assembly constituencies

The swing in votes is partly explained by the voter turnout but in an AC like Parbatta the number
of votes for the BJP halved while the number of votes for the RJD alliance increased by 50%. This
is not because of the party affiliation as much as to do with the quality of candidates fighting the

election. The same holds true with the quality of the candidates for the RJD in 2 of the 3 ACs they

won during the Lok Sabha election

a. Past elections cannot predict future elections

Using the 2014 Lok Sabha election as the basis, a punter could have predicted only 30% of the

seats for the bye elections accurately even after adding up the votes of the RJD alliance.
Extrapolating this, at least for Bihar, the bye election cannot be used to predict the assembly

election next year. Both formations will need to put significant effort on a variety of tasks whether

it is governance in the state or the centre or the process of candidate selection and voter turnout.

The traditional issues of caste and religion are perhaps less fluid than expected
Is it the end of saga called Lalu?
Lalu Yadav, the enigmatic, rustic, popular, powerful, jovial, happy go lucky politician, is fighting

his biggest battle in this years assembly polls in Bihar. Lalu Yadavs party Rashtriya Janata Dal

(RJD)* was reduced to mere 22 seats in 2010 assembly polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bihar too

was Modified and Lalu managed to win just 4 seats.

Chart: Seats & Vote Share of Janata Dal / Rashtriya Janata Dal in Assembly Elections

Lalu, who along with his wife Rabri, ruled the state for 15 years from 1990-2005, is fighting to

stay afloat. He has held onto the hands of his old Janata Dal colleagues Nitish Kumar and Sharad

Yadav to make a comeback after conviction in the fodder scam barred him for fighting polls.

How did Lalu, the champion of OBCs, Muslims, Dalits, the man responsible for social engineering

among backward classes, one of the prominent figures in the mandal movements, self-proclaimed

torch bearer of secularism, lose his clout in Bihar?


1. Exodus of leaders like Nitish / George Fernandes / Sharad Yadav

In 1994, Nitish and George left Janata Dal to float their own party named Samata Party because

of differences with central leadership and specifically Lalu in Bihar. Samata Party joined hands

with their ex partners in Janata Party Atal and Advanis BJP. They took with them a portion of the

Kurmi / Koeri vote bank and lower OBCs and Dalits. In 1995 their first state elections Samata

Party garnered 7.1% of votes and improving it to 8.7% in 2000.

In 1997 Lalu broke away from parent Janata Dal to form his own party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The remaining Janata Dal rechristened as Janata Dal United (Sharad Yadav) in Bihar and also

joined hands with BJP getting 6.5% vote share in 2000. Lalus partys vote share also increased

during the period from 25.6% in 1990 to 28.3% in 2000. A large proportion of the vote share that

Nitish / Sharad grabbed was from the weakening Congress party. However, these leaders did

manage to challenge Lalus dominance in the state and become the major opposition. They halted

his growth. They got a further boost in 2003 with the merger of Samata Party into JD(U). In 2005,

these Janata rivals managed to wrest power from Lalu with the help of the BJP forming more or

less the same social combination.

2. Loss of support base among MY combination

Muslims-Yadavs which form 30% of the population of Bihar are the most vocal supporters of

Lalu. In 1999 Lok Sabha polls more than 3/4th of these caste groups voted for Lalu helping him

to get 22-24% vote share from these two groups only. In elections where 33-35% vote share is

enough to win, this is a big chunk.

However, lately as the graph shows Lalus dominance over this vote share has declined. From 76%

Yadavs voting for Lalu in 1999 Lok Sabha, this no. fell to 64% in 2010 state polls. For Muslims,
the decline is sharper from 77% in 1999, this no. fell to 32% in 2010. Lalu regained the trust among

Muslims in 2014 Lok Sabha with 64% vote share. However, the nos. are nowhere close to his peak

popularity among MY combination.

Other dominant leaders have emerged among Yadav community notably Sharad Yadav (JDU

President) and Nand Kishore Yadav (BJP and Leader of Opposition in Bihar assembly). His

daughter Misa Bharti lost to Ram Kirpal Yadav (who left RJD to join BJP) in Lok Sabha elections

last year. His party also lost support among Dalits and lower OBCs over the years from 39% to
10% (Dalits) and 30% to 10% (lower OBCs) respectively.

Chart 3: RJD vote share from different caste groups


3. Tactical error in 2009 (Fallout with Congress)

Lalu couldnt handle his success as Railways Minister and limelight, he became arrogant. In 2009

Lok Sabha polls, he arm twisted Congress to accept lesser seats in Bihar. Seat sharing talks failed

and he went onto fight through an alliance with Paswan. This was one of the biggest blunders

committed by Lalu (later admitted by him as well).

Congress and UPA got higher no. of seats in 2009 Lok Sabha elections than 2004 and Lalus
bargaining power reduced. In Lok Sabha his party was thrashed in Bihar winning only 4 seats

down from 22 in 2004. NDA won 32 seats and Congress fighting alone won 2.

An analysis of 2009 Lok Sabah results show that if Lalu had allied with Congress, the combination

would have won 21 seats and NDA 18 and he may have well continued as Railway minister.

Despite Lalus support to UPA post polls, he was ignored by Sonia.

In 2010 assembly polls, again Congress fought alone and Lalu allied with Paswan. He didnt even

include CPI in his alliance. The result - RJD alliance won only 25 seats and NDA whopping

206/243. Only 32% of Muslims voted for Lalu. The vote of the community got split between Lalu-

Nitish-Congress. He overestimated Paswans ability to win a large proportion of the dalit vote. An

analysis shows that if Lalu had formed an alliance with Paswan, Congress, NCP and CPI, they

would have won 103 seats and NDA 133.

2009 Lok Sabha 2009 Lok Sabha 2010 State Polls 2010 State Polls
Seats Vote Share Seats Vote Share Seats Vote Share Seats Vote Share
NDA (JDU +
BJP) 32 37.9 18 37.9 206 39.6 133 39.6
RJD + LJP 4 25.8 25 25.6
21 38.7 103 37.5
Congress 2 10.3 4 8.4
Others /
Independents 2 26.0 1 23.4 8 26.4 7 22.9
40 100.0 40 100.0 243 100.0 243 100.0
4. Low economic growth during his regime

Lalus tenure witnessed an economic growth of 4.89% from 1993-94 to 2004-05 lower than

national average of 6.32% during the same period. More than economic growth govt.s stated

objective was achievement of social justice for poor, downtrodden, Dalits, lower OBCs and

Muslims. Law and order situation was poor, kidnapping, looting thrived as industries. Poor

performance of govt. during 1990-2005 symbolized a jungle raj

5. Cases of corruption against Lalu fodder scam & subsequent conviction

Lalu was accused of being the master mind of fodder scam and siphoning off funds from the

treasury. He had to go to jail and relinquish his CM chair in favour of his wife in July 1997. He

was subsequently released on bail but the case dragged on for years before he was finally convicted

in Oct 2013. As the literacy levels in the state increased, this helped create a negative image among

a section of the educated class voters.

Can Lalu survive this biggest crisis ever? Can he still hold onto his core vote bank? Can he

improve upon his 2010 performance? Can Lalu be a force to reckon with in Bihar till there

is Samose mein Aloo? Can the timely alliance with Nitish bring about a resurgence? Only

time will tell.


Will Muslims & Mahadalits decide the fate of Bihar polls?
Muslims (16.5%) and Mahadalits (10%) account for more than one-fourth of population of Bihar.

This is sizeable and may decide the fate of the polls scheduled in the state in October-November

this year. These two communities have the ability to influence results of 80 odd seats (1/3rd). .

Muslims in the state have been traditional vote bank of Lalus Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.

Mahadalits (10%) is a new caste category created by Nitish including some erstwhile SC/ST

categories and some other lower OBCs. Mahadalits were traditional supporters of Lalu-Congress-

Paswan earlier and shifted to Nitish after he created this category providing them reservation.

The voter turnout among Muslims and Mahadalits is usually higher than the average turnout in

polls (this is the general perception) thats why these two categories are very important from results

point of view. Whichever party wins majority of the seats here, may turn out as winner.

85% of Muslims voted for the MGB alliance (64% RJD & 21% JDU) in Lok Sabha polls in May

2014. Only 2% voted for BJP. 42% of Mahadalits voted for BJP alliance while 30% for Janata

alliance (20% for JDU and 10% for RJD) in Lok Sabha polls. It is to be noted that RJD and JDU

fought Lok Sabha polls separately.

While Muslims are expected to polarise towards Janata led grand alliance, Mahadalits could

polarise towards Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) because of

presence of Manjhi in their fold.

There are 7 districts (around 40 seats) where Mahadalit population is higher than 10% (average

population in the state) and this is where they could play an important role. These districts are

Gaya (19%), Nawada (17.5%), Jehanabad (17.3%), Kaimur (14.8%), Aurangabad (12.3%),
Madhepura (10.6%) and Jamui (11.2%).
There are 7 districts (40 odd seats) where Muslim population is higher than 20% and this is where

they may play a major role. These districts are Katihar (42.5%), Purnia (36.7%), Araria (41.1%),

Kishanganj (67.6%), Darbhanga (22.7%), Paschim Champaran (21.2%), Sitamarhi (21.1%).

Lalu and Congress on an average have won more than half of the Muslim community influential

seats in 1990, 1995 and 2000 elections as shown in chart below. This propelled Lalu to form

successive governments in Bihar.

In 2005, Paswan broke away from Lalu and fought elections alone. This led to split of Muslim

votes. This along with other factors reduced Lalus share of Muslim seats to 31% and helped JDU-

BJP combine to end Lalus 15 years of jungle raj. Muslims who voted for Lalu reduced from 48%

in 2000 elections to 36% in 2005. Most of this was grabbed by Paswan whose party bagged 15%

Muslim vote share. More than half of the Muslim dominated seats were won by JDU-BJP combine

which went onto form the government.

In 2010, Lalu broke alliance with Congress and paid a hefty price. JDU bagged 21% and Congress

22% of Muslim vote. RJD faced challenges in constituencies where it faced JDU candidates. This

meant Lalus party could capture only 33% of the Muslims influenced seats and was battered badly

winning only 22 seats in total.


Chart: % of Muslims influenced seats won by various parties

Lalu and Congress won more than half of the Mahadalits influential seats in 1990, 1995 and 2000

elections as shown in chart below. This propelled Lalu to form successive governments.

In 2005, Paswan broke away from Lalu and fought elections alone. This led to split of Dalits vote.

This along with other factors reduced Lalus share of Dalits seats to 29% and helped JDU-BJP

combine to end Lalus 15 years of jungle raj. Dalits who voted for Lalu reduced from 27% in 2000

elections to 17% in 2005. Most of this was grabbed by Paswan whose party bagged 28% Dalits

vote share. More than half of Dalits dominated seats were won by JDU-BJP combine which went

onto form the govt. It is noted that Mahadalit category was not created at that time and was

embedded with Dalits category.

In 2010, Lalu broke alliance with Congress and partnered with Paswan. Nitish during this tenure

created the Mahadalit category and offered them sops except for Dusadhs to which caste Paswan

belongs. Resultantly 45% Mahadalits voted for BJP-JDU and they bagged 85% of these seats
leading to a sweep (206 / 243 seats).
Chart: % of Mahadalits influenced seats won by various parties

The trend clearly shows that these two caste categories could well decide the fate of 2015 assembly

polls. They are seen to have voted in tandem during 1990-2010 polls. 2015 elections however pose

a challenge to the trend. While Muslims overwhelmingly are expected to vote for the MGB

alliance, Mahadalits are expected to side with BJP led NDA as Paswans LJP (Lok Janashakti

Party) and Manjhis HAM (Hindustani Awam Morcha) party are in NDA.

Can Manjhi tilt the scale in BJPs favour? Can Muslims ensure Lalu-Nitish victory in Bihar? We

will get the answer to these questions in less than a month from now.

In the meanwhile as far as the MGB alliance is concerned, focusing on a positive message around

Nitish Kumar's governance (high satisfaction) would be the most sensible strategy. This would

mean a higher retention amongst core OBC voters apart from winning some of the smaller OBC

and Dalit groups as well. They should learn from the AAP in Delhi and avoid targeting Modi or

the BJP as they have been doing so far. Negative campaigns rarely work. Also, how the alliance
will work on the ground (Candidate choice, management of rebel candidates etc.) is going to be

an extremely important determinant to its chances of victory in the election

Both alliances will need to find a micro-segment strategy (Message, Issues, Candidates and

Campaigning) to grab more votes from Independents and smaller parties which constituted about

26% of the voting population in 2010. This would be a replay of the AAP strategy in Delhi where

it constrained BJP to its historic averages while grabbing votes from smaller parties.
Decoding the seat sharing between Lalu-Nitish in Bihar
The much awaited seat sharing formula of the grand Janata alliance and Congress for the Bihar

polls is out. Nitishs Janata Dal (United) and Lalus Rashtriya Janata Dal will fight on 101 seats

each while Congress has been given 40 seats. A lot of hue and cry is being raised in the media and

by opponents as to how Nitish agreed for fewer seats than what his party won last time in 2010. In

an article as early as Jan. 2015 in Niticentral, I had predicted a 97:97:49 seat sharing arrangement

vs 100:100:40:3 announced.

How could Nitish agree to give 100 seats to Lalu and 40 seats to Congress which won only 22

and 4 seats respectively in 2010?

There are various factors which would have been considered before arriving at this formula.

1. 2010 Assembly Polls Performance

In 2010, JDU won 115 seats, but it was in alliance with BJP. It won these many seats because of

transfer of BJP votes (16.5%) in favour of JDU candidates. If JDU had fought alone (I removed

16.5% vote share of JDU candidates on seats they won), it would have lost 76 of the 115 seats

won. JDU vote share was only 4% higher than RJD. Congress got 8% vote share. So this is not a

perfect benchmark Lalu would have opined. Its too old and related to circumstances at that time.
2. 2014 Lok Sabha Polls Performance

In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, JDU fought on its own and led in only 18 assembly constituencies

(-84%). RJD+Cong+NCP (who fought together) lead in 51 assembly segments. RJD vote share

was 4% higher than JDU. Congress maintained its vote share. Nitish would argue that 64% of Lok

Sabha voters in the state, said they were satisfied with Nitish government in the state (Source:

CSDS-Lokniti report). Additionally, Lok Sabha is a different ball game, fought on national issues,

rather than state issues. So this is not a perfect benchmark.

3. Nitish leads popularity charts for most suitable CM

Nitish is the Chief Ministerial candidate of this alliance. He leads the popularity charts for most

suitable CM. Since he is the leader, his party should fight on maximum seats to send a positive

signal to voters, JDU would have argued. However, Lalu would not have agreed to Nitish

projection as CM candidate without getting a commitment for an equal no. of seats.

4. Caste vote bank of each party

Lalu wields sizeable control over Muslim-Yadav vote bank (accounting for 30.5% of population).

64% of Muslims & Yadavs voted for RJD candidates in Lok Sabha. Congress too has a decent

vote share amongst Muslims and a portion of upper castes. JDU meanwhile on a standalone basis

doesnt enjoy the mass support of any community except for Kurmis (only 4% of state population).

5. Development vs Caste Factor

Will people vote for development or still majority would vote on basis of caste? Caste is cast in

stone in Bihar similar to other north Indian states like Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, though some
people, mostly living in urban areas could vote basis development, caste will be the key factor for

voter preference. Even by BJPs own internal calculations only 15% of the states voters are those

for whom development will be a bigger motivator than caste. (Source: ET July 27, 2015).

So we see that Nitish led on 2 of these factors (2010 assembly polls and Development factor),

while Lalu also led on 2 of these factors (2014 Lok Sabha polls and Caste factor). Hence, an equal

distribution of seats between the two partners was logical and only way forward.

This brings us to another big question Why did Nitish agree for less than 111 seats, JDUs

current strength in the assembly, knowing fully well it would lead to rebel candidates?

There are three main reasons for this:

a. To keep Congress happy

JDU demanding 111 seats would have led to Lalu demanding the same no. of seats as per logic

shown above. This would have left only 21 seats for Congress. This would have been not a

respectful tally for Congress considering it has 8% vote share.

32% of Muslims voted for Congress in 2010 assembly polls when it contested alone without RJD.

Congress is the grand old party of India and still has a dedicated cadre base across most of India.

This move would have led Congress to put up candidates for all 243 seats. While it still many not

win many, Congress does have potential of spoiling Nitish-Lalu game in many seats.
b. Rebels not a big factor

JDU has been grappling with the issue of rebels for quite some time. Last year 8 rebel MLAs were

expelled from the house for voting against official candidates in Rajya Sabha elections. This year

party suspended 8 MLAs including Manjhi & his supporters for anti-party activities. Recently one

rebel Rajiv Ranjan joined BJP. The party still has some rebels as 18 MLAs voted against party

candidate in RS elections and 12 MLAs were supporting Manjhi. So all of them have not been

suspended / expelled. Nitish is fully aware of this. So there are at least a dozen rebels still in Nitish
camp who he wants to penalize for going out of party line & deny ticket.

c. To portray a gesture of accommodation

This also helps Nitish portray to his allies and the public that he is being accommodating and very

committed to defeating so called communal forces like BJP.

Distrust between the allies is also an underlying factor of the seat sharing formula

Whatever bonhomie Nitish and Lalu are showing to the world is all a sham. For much of their

political careers they have been fighting against each other. After the results or few months down

the line you never know they might break up due to personal differences. It all depends upon

whether they win polls and Lalu gets a respectable share in the cabinet post that.

The fact that both fight on equal number of seats is also not to give each other chances of winning

more seats. Now both of them are on an equal footing. The seat sharing has also been crafted in

such a way, that neither Lalu nor Nitish post polls can form govt. on a standalone basis with
Congress support. Its very difficult to get majority (122 seats) by contesting on 140 odd seats. So

they will all live together and sink together. In the end it is a compromise from all sides to take on
the mighty Bhartiya Janata Party. Anti-BJP forces in India realize that if BJP wins Bihar, then it

could go on to win Assam, Uttar Pradesh and could record considerable improvement in

performance in Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. In essence it could become a much more

potent force. Its a question of survival.


Probable Spoilers in Bihar Elections

For the first time in many years Bihar does not face multi-cornered contest as most of the bigwigs

have joined one or the other alliance. The contest is bipolar between BJP led alliance on one hand

(which has Paswan, Kushwaha and Manjhi in its fold) and grand Janata alliance (which has Nitish,

Lalu and Congress). Pawars Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Mulayams Samajwadi Party

(SP) have left the grand Janata alliance unhappy with the seats offered.

However, there are many small parties which can spoil the game plan of these two alliances namely

Communist Party of India, Communist Party Marxist, CPI (ML), NCP, SP and Mayawatis

Bahujan Samaj Party. These parties have pockets of influence in the state and could dent the

chances of either of the alliance in these seats.

These 6 parties along with Independents have accounted for upwards of 22% vote share in last

three polls in the state. These six parties are pretty strong in 75 odd seats in the state and can

damage the prospects of either NDA or Janata alliance.

Even in Lok Sabha 2014 polls other small parties and independents bagged 15% vote share. In the

state bye-polls which followed they recorded 17% vote share.


Samajwadi Partys influence has been declining in the state over the years and Lalu has emerged

as the undisputed leader of Yadav community. Still, SP has the potential to damage Janata alliance

more than NDA and hit its Muslim-Yadav votebank.

NCP has a decent presence especially among minorities in the state (mainly Katihar district) and

it could again damage Janata alliance more than NDA. BSP has the highest vote share among the

smaller groups mostly comprising of Dalits / Mahadalits. It could damage prospects of NDA which

is hoping to garner majority of the community votes with Paswan and Manjhi on its side. If BSP
retains its vote share, Paswans LJP and Manjhis HAM may not be able to win more seats for

NDA. CPI and CPI-ML have historically had a decent presence in the state. CPI fought the Lok

Sabha polls with Janata Dal United. The communists have among their vote bank Most Backward

Classes and poor class. They have potential of hurting Janata alliance and NDA because of

overlapping vote bank.

Influential Seats of Smaller Parties

Source: politicalbaaba.com

Independents have always played a major role in state elections in Bihar. These independents

usually are people with significant influence in their constituencies because of their lineage,
Robinhood image, messiah of poor etc.
With Lalu and Nitish deciding to fight on 101 seats each which is a significant clampdown from

the previous elections (168 and 141 respectively), there are expected to be many rebel candidates

from both camps. A few of them could be accommodated by opposition mainly Paswan, Manjhi

and Kushwaha. However, many could still not be accommodated and contest as independents.

Apart from these parties, AIMIM is expected to make its debut in Bihar. AIMIM is expected to

dent the Muslim vote bank of MGB in the 6 seats that it has decided to contest.

Expected Impact of Smaller Parties on Various Alliances:

In an election which appears neck to neck and more so bipolar, (boiling down to individual seats)

independent candidates and small parties are capable of creating a nuisance value and alter the poll

campaign / plans / prospects of the two major alliances. Who will they impact more is a million

dollar question which would be known only after the polls


Will Manjhi be the Mountain Man for BJP in Bihar?
Jiten Ram Manji, the former Chief Minister of Bihar, is one of the prominent figures in the ensuing

Bihar elections. After being suspended from Janata Dal (United), this former Chief Minister, along

with his supporters floated a new party Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM).

Manjhi joined the BJP led National Democratic Alliance and is contesting the elections on 20

seats. BJP is betting big on Manjhi to swing the Mahadalit votebank from Nitish led Janata alliance

into NDA fold. Mahadalits account for 10% of Bihar population and could influence the outcome

in not only the 40 seats reserved for SC/ST category but also approximately 40 other seats,

meaning they have significant influence in one-third of the seats. This is precisely the reason why

BJP roped in Manjhi. 42% Mahadalits voted for NDA in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Manjhi himself

belongs to the musahar sub-caste which accounts for 15% of Mahadalit population and 1.5% of

total population of the state.

NDA, which was lagging by approx. 5% vote share compared to Maha Gathbandhan in LS polls

(39% vs 45%), strategy is to garner 20%-30% additional votes from Mahadalits, and hence add

3%-5% to their overall vote share. So Manjhis success is directly linked to BJP led NDAs

success. HAM has fielded 7 sitting MLAs of JDU out of 20 seats allotted to him.

Nitish created the Mahadalit category in 2009 to create a vote bank which was earlier with Lalu

during 1990-2000 and then had drifted to Paswans LJP. Nitish set up a commission for the welfare

of certain Dalit castes that are socially and educationally more backward than others. Initially

18/22 sub-castes of Dalits were included in the Mahadalit category leaving out Dhobi, Chamar,

Pasi and Paswans. Later everybody was included under the Mahdalit category leaving only

Paswans under the Dalit category.


Chamar and Musahars are the major sub-castes accounting for 69% of total Mahadalit population

of approx. 90 lakhs. Gaya has the highest Mahadalit population (8.3 lakhs) followed by Patna and

Nawada. Mahadalits population in these ten districts is more than 10% (their average population

in the state).

Top 10 Mahadalit Population Districts

9 8.3
8
7
6
5 4.5
3.9 3.7
4 3.6 3.4 3.4 3.2 3.1 3.1
3
2
1
0

Main Mahadalit Sub-Castes

Bhuiya, 6.3% Others,


9.6%

Dhobi, 17.2%
Chamar, 62.9%
Pasi, 2.2%
Musahar, 15.2%
After Manjhi became CM, he also passed orders for inclusion of Paswans in Mahadalit category.

When Nitish became CM after removal of Manjhi, he reversed some of the decisions taken by

Manjhi except for this one. So today all Dalits are classified as Mahadalits in Bihar.

Dalits / Mahadalits voted in large numbers (44%) in favour of BJP led NDA in 1999 LS polls to

install Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM. This vote share steadily declined to 18% by 2005 state polls

when Paswan emerged as the champion of this community in Bihar. After installation of NDA

(BJP+JDU) govt. in Bihar and creation of Mahadalit category this vote share increased to 31%
levels in 2010 state polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha, BJP got 42% of Dalits / Mahadalits votes.

Lalu got 39% dalits / mahadalits votes in 1999, which increased to 42% in 2004 LS polls (in

alliance with Paswan). This declined to 20% when Paswan fought with Left Front and not RJD in

2005 state polls. In 2010 it recovered to 29% when Paswan again joined Lalu alliance. In 2014

Lok Sabha polls, Lalus party got only 10% of dalits / mahadalits votes. JDU got 20% of the

community votes making it 30% for Janata alliance.

Dalits & Mahadalits voting pattern across polls

50%
45% 42%
44%
40%
42%
35% 39% 31% 31% 31%
30% 28% 30%
25% 29% 29% 29%
20%
20%
15% 18%
10%
5%
0%
1999LS 2000AE 2004LS 2005AE 2009LS 2010AE 2014LS

RJD BJP + JDU


1999-2010: All numbers for RJD and NDA (BJP+JDU). 2014 LS no. of RJD includes JDU, while

NDA no. is of BJP and allies but excluding JDU.

Ram Vilas Paswan has emerged as the undisputed leader of Pasi & Paswan community (6% of

population) and has proved that he can transfer votes of this sub-caste to whichever alliance he ties

up with. LJP vote share has consistently been 6.5%+ and he has managed to get for himself and

allies 50%-70% of community votes.

2004LS 2005AE 2009LS 2010AE 2014LS


Vote Share 8.2% 11.1% 6.5% 6.7% 6.5%
Alliance With RJD + Cong Left RJD RJD BJP
Pasi / Paswan votes 70% 47% 50% 55% 60%

In 2014, while 60% Paswans voted for NDA, only 33% of Mahadalits (minus Chamar and Pasi)

and 34% of Chamars voted for it. This is the gap which NDA expects to fill through Manjhi. A

60% voting of the Mahadalit community (excluding Paswans) would mean an additional 3% vote

share addition to NDA. This is key to bridge the 5% gap of LS polls. Not only this, it also could

lead to a minimum 0.25%-0.75% decline in vote share of Janata alliance even if you assume all

addition to NDA votes is from Others.

Sub-Caste NDA Janata Alliance


Mahadalit (minus Chamar & Pasi) 33.0% 45.0%
Chamar 34% 30%
Pasi & Paswan 60% 15%
Source: Indian Express Article
Can Manjhi achieve this feat for NDA?

Things which may go in his favour:

Nitish blunder of making him CM has helped him to establish as a face of Mahadalits in

Bihar.

BJP has provided him Z category security, again symbolic of giving importance to the

community leader.
Has fielded 7 sitting MLAs in elections.

Has access to BJP machinery, infrastructure and resources.

Things which may go against him:

He is yet to prove himself as the undisputed leader of Mahadalits.

In 12 out of 20 seats his party is contesting, he is locked in a tough fight with erstwhile

party JDU. Manjhi himself is fighting a tough battle against another Mahadalit popular

leader Uday Narayan Chaudhary (Speaker).

New party means his voters may not recognize his symbol (as Dr. Pravin Patil puts it).

More so, some may still believe he is in JDU and vote for Nitish instead.

Tussle of one-upmanship with Ram Vilas Paswan.

Manjhi fought the Lok Sabha polls on JDU ticket from Gaya town. Gaya has the highest population

of SC-ST in Bihar (30%). He finished 3rd with 16.3% vote share amongst the top 3 Manjhi

candidates contesting.

Has BJP banked too much on Manjhi? If he fails BJP goal of forming govt. in Bihar is not possible.
Will he become the mountain man for BJP in Bihar? Only time will tell.
BJP Challenges and what they must do to win Bihar?

Why it is easy for NDA to win Bihar?


While most polls predict a tight fight, ABP News and India TV polls show NDA winning while

India Today shows MGB winning. Common theme is all polls show the winner is just scraping

through (<= 125 seats, 122 is required for a simple majority).

My research and on-ground feedback suggests that NDA is expected to win the polls. How many
seats they end up with will depend upon the candidate selection, vote transfer from allies,

opposition candidate, rebels in each seat, voter turnout etc.

There are five clear reasons which favour a NDA win:

1. Arithmetic which is the basic rationale of Lalu-Nitish coming together is not working on

the ground

Elections are not all about arithmetic but also about chemistry. Lalu-Nitish are old foes turned

friends for the sake of convenience. The whole alliance was based on the logic that JDU (Nitish)
+ RJD (Lalu) + Congress vote share is more than NDA vote share (45.1% vs 39.1% in LS 2014).

This logic proved correct when first time they fought together in bye polls on 10 seats held after

Lok Sabha elections, Janata alliance bagged c.46% vote share and went onto win 6/10 seats.

However, as we saw in the analysis earlier, the results of the by election are very misleading.

However, in majority of the opinion polls maximum vote share which is being attributed to Janata
alliance is 43% while BJP is seen increasing its vote share (39% to 42% range).
This is a clear sign arithmetic is not working, distrust between allies Lalu-Nitish, Lalu-Congress,

and probably historic conflicts on the ground are impacting the alliance. The campaign is very

disjointed with Lalu talking about Mandal 2 while Nitish is harping on development. Congress

appears lost with no strategy and hoping to piggyback on Nitish-Lalu charisma. It hopes to lead an

anti-Modi alliance in the center on the lines of Janata Party vs Congress tussle in 1977 after

emergency.

2. Trend between Lok Sabha & Assembly Polls of Bihar

Assembly elections in Bihar have been historically held in proximity to the Lok Sabha polls. The

last three state polls have been held after a gap of 1-1.5 years from Lok Sabha elections. Historical

trend (from 1951-2014) shows that most of the times the party getting maximum seats in the Lok

Sabha elections in Bihar goes on to win the state polls. This trend favours NDA as it swept the last

Lok Sabha polls by winning 31 / 40 seats.

3. Caste wise representation in Bihar assembly

Caste system is deep rooted in Bihar. This elections is more about getting the caste combination

right than development (sad but true). MLAs from Upper caste, Dalit / Mahadalit and Bania

community account for half of the strength of last few assemblies in Bihar. 78% upper castes, 42%

Dalit / Mahadalit and 53% Bania community voted for NDA in Lok Sabha. With the entry of

Manjhi Dalit / Mahadalit votes expected to increase to 60%-65%.

In this elections, Upper castes, Dalits / Mahadalits and Banias are expected to overwhelmingly

back NDA and there are more chances of MLAs from this community winning on NDA ticket
rather than Janata alliance ticket.
4. Expected vote share of alliances

This election is clearly polarized with majority Upper castes, Dalits / Mahadalits, Banias,

Kushwahas and Koeris backing NDA accounting for 45-46% of population. On the other hand

majority of Muslims, Yadavs, Kurmis are backing Janata alliance (accounting for 35-36% of

population). Most backward classes accounting for 17-18% hold the key.

NDA is expected to gain 2-3% additional vote share from Mahadalits / Dalits (15%-20% of 16%
population) because of Manjhi. Another 1% increase is expected to come from Koeris / Kushwahas

(10%-15% of 8% population).

This takes NDA vote share to c. 43%-44% range which is enough to win even a neck to neck fight.

Janata on the other hand is expected to lose some vote share (minimum 1%) to Owaisi party. 15%

of pro-development voters with Nitish are expected to turn away from Nitish because of Lalu

denting another 2% vote share of Janata parivar (15% of 16% vote share of JDU in LS).

5. No. of seats with >45% vote share

In any election, 45% vote share is enough to win a seat. There are 75- 80 odd seats / assembly

segments where NDA received >45% vote share in Lok Sabha polls (2014) and last assembly polls

(2010). The corresponding number for Janata alliance is 55- 60. This gives a big headway of 20-

25 seats to NDA which could be crucial in a tight elections.

The momentum is clearly with NDA. Successive opinion polls of channels which predict a Janata

win are showing a narrowing gap between the two parties not only in terms of seats / vote share
but also for most preferred CM candidate where Sushil Modi is seen catching up on Nitish.
Why it is difficult for NDA to win Bihar?
Twiterrati and other experts are buzz with the hypothesis that the BJP will win Bihar quite easily.

The excellent response to the PM's events, the perceived fear of jungle raj and dissensions within

the Janata alliance (Manjhi, Pappu Yadav,NCP and SP) are stated as factors that support this

hypothesis. However, the final opinion polls show that the two alliances appear to be neck to

neck. My own take was that the election is still too close to call.

Today I attempt to study the BJP's chances using the Lok Sabha data of 2014 as well as the just
released RBI Data.

Chart 1: Seat calculation on the basis of 2014 election results RJD+INC+JD (U) calculated

as a single party

Assuming that all the voters who voted for RJD+INC+JD (U) will vote for the Janata alliance, the

total for the Janata alliance would be 144 versus 93 for the BJP. That is a huge 51 seat advantage

for the Janata alliance. However, we know from past experience that alliances do not necessarily

mean direct transfer of votes (Impact on Janata alliance) and also that people vote differently in

Lok Sabha elections versus Assembly elections (Impact on BJP alliance)


Chart 2: Gap between the two alliances amongst seats won in 2014

Moving forward from the previous chart, one can evaluate the strength of each party by

understanding what % of seats are marginal seats (won by slim majority) as that is indicative of

the strength of the party

The Janata alliance has significantly more strong seats (89 seats in green) than the BJP alliance

(42 seats in green) while having only marginally more weak seats (55 seats in red/orange) than the

BJP alliance (51 seats in red/orange). But as the data shows, the BJP is defending a much larger

share of its seats than the Janata alliance. Given the large number of competitive seats, both

alliances will need to be extremely careful about quality of candidates and levels of dissidence.
Chart 3: Deposit growth data from RBI and evaluation of performance

The RBI was able to provide deposit growth data for the last 4 years for about 103 constituencies.

The ratio of BJP seats was marginally higher in this group (42% versus 38% in all the seats). I

have split the seats into 3 groups - Low deposit growth seats - < less than 60% growth in 4 years,

high deposit growth seats - 90% growth in 4 years and the medium growth seats - 60% to 90%

growth in 4 years. The findings from Chart can be summarized as follows

a. The Janata alliance does very well at both ends of the spectrum, winning 69% of the high growth

and 65% of the low growth seats. The BJP alliance does better in the medium growth seats winning

53% of the seats

b. Assuming that the growth mix for these 103 seats is the same as all the 243 seats, the BJP could

be in trouble because 56% of the seats are either high or low growth where the probability of Janata

alliance winning the seats is above 65%. Only 44% of the seats are the medium zone where the
BJP alliance has a 53% probability of winning.
A further study of this data reveals another interesting trend

Chart 4: Vote share gap amongst high, medium and low growth seats won by each of the

alliances
Amongst the Janata alliance strong seats, the BJP alliance enjoys marginal advantage amongst

seats won by the BJP (6% in high growth seats and 8% in low growth seats) while in the BJP

alliance strong seats (Medium growth seats), the Janata alliance enjoys a healthy advantage of 15%

points in the seats that they won in 2014. In other words, the BJP alliance is more susceptible

to lose seats than the Janata alliance as many of their low margin seats are in segments that

are more favorable to the Janata alliance


Charts 2 and 4 bring forth an important hypothesis - The BJP is more susceptible to lose seats

than the Janata alliance given a higher proportion of weaker seats and also the fact that

many of these seats are in locations that are weaker for the BJP.

The BJP has a tough ask ahead, particularly amongst less affluent/ high Muslim concentration

districts. However, as we saw earlier, improving the turnout of women amongst its most loyal

voters could bridge this gap to a certain extent. It should and will continue to try winning votes

amongst smaller OBC and SC groups. It will also attempt to win neo middle class voters amongst

the core OBC voters of Nitish and Laloo Yadav. However, they should avoid an anti-Nitish

campaign and focus on positive messages for their target groups

a. The BJP alliance can win some 15-20 seats on account of their alliance with the Manjhi group

as well as due to NCP/SP/Pappu Yadav/Left contesting separately


b. The BJP alliance can gain 15-20 seats because some Nitish and Laloo voters do not want to vote

for the alliance partner and instead stay home or vote for the BJP alliance

c. The BJP alliance can grab seats from the Janata alliance by doing even better (than 2014)

amongst lower OBC and Mahadalit voters who have already consolidated in favor of the BJP

Strategically, the BJP will continue to focus on the above three components to ensure it gains those

40 seats that will take it to a comfortable majority. It will also emphasize on its delivery when it
was in power in Bihar and now in the center to make it a credible party for the swing voters and

thus defend all its seats won in 2015. The Janata alliance on the other hand will play offense by

targeting the 50+ weak BJP seats with both caste based and development messages. The Janata

alliance can also grab seats from the BJP alliance by doing better amongst lower OBC and Yadav

voters who may voted for the Modi wave in 2014. Even if they win 15 of BJP seats while losing

40, the Janata alliance will come close to a majority.

The above possibilities both in favor and against the BJP are reflected in the opinion poll

results that show very little differences between the BJP and Janata alliance with the Janata

alliance enjoying a marginal advantage. However, the future results will depend on the

quality of campaigning, on ground strategy, quality of candidates and external factors. All

said and done, there is no doubt now that this will be an extremely interesting election going

forward.
THE GAMES
What makes Bihar such a close and unpredictable election?

Chart 1: Odisha v MP v Bihar


The following chart compares 3 states - Odisha (Naveen in power for 15 years), MP (Shivraj in

Power for 10 years) and Bihar (Nitish in power for 10 years). It compares 3 metrics

a. Leadership preference for the CM

b. Leadership preference for the main Opposition candidate (Next Preference)

c. Vote share difference between the ruling alliance and opposition

Not surprisingly, Naveen Patnaik enjoys the highest vote share gap with opposition given his high

leadership ratings advantage over the opposition. Nitish in 2010 similarly had a very a high vote

share advantage over his opposition given his 26 point leadership advantage over Laloo. Shivraj

Chouhan enjoys a much lower vote share advantage given the fact that his leadership gap is much

lower than the other two. Now, coming to the latest ABP-Nielsen Poll, Nitish Kumar enjoys a 10%

advantage over Sushil Modi on leadership ratings. This is the lowest gap when compared with the
other 3 rating comparisons that we evaluated just now. This would not translate to more than a 3%

gap which can be easily made up over the next 3 months. This makes the Bihar election in 2015

for now.
While many experts argue that this election is about caste and jungle raj and development and so

on, this election is also about who gets credit for the solid governance between 2010 and 2015

and therefore can be relied to grow the economy again between 2015-2020. Here is a chart that

illustrates my point in a more effective manner.

Chart 2: Performance of Parties, Alliances and Combinations along with Per Capita Income
growth, 2000-2014

This following chart is not just about alliances, it is about combination of parties and comparison

with per capita income growth. First, let us look at the orange line (BJP+JD (U)) and compare it
with the green line (RJD Alliance). Between 2000 and 2005, the Bihar per capita income grew by

only 37% when the RJD was in power. This created a gap of +5% in favour BJP-Nitish in the 2005

elections. As the income growth increased to 95% between 2005 and 2010 under Nitish Kumar,

the gap increased further to +13% in 2010. Had Nitish and BJP aligned in 2014, the stupendous

economic performance plus the Modi wave could have probably delivered much more than the

46% vote that they won in the election. The actual gap at 16% is the highest in recent Bihar
elections. So it is fairly clear that economic performance is closely correlated to election

results.

The blue line indicates the lost opportunity for the RJD. Had RJD stitched up the right alliances,

the vote share gap with the BJP-Nitish alliance would have been much smaller than had been in

the last few elections. For example in 2010, the right alliances would have delivered only a 3%

negative gap for Laloo versus a final gap of 13%. The split between Nitish and the BJP has offered

Laloo a unique opportunity to get back to power. However, as history and the previous chart has
shown, this can happen only if the RJD solidly supports the claim that Nitish Kumar is

responsible for the stupendous growth and create an image of being a solid backer of Nitish

Kumar on the ground. This will be seen by voters as being a responsible party that can be trusted

with governance for the next 5 years and continue with the Nitish growth model.
Summary

The small leadership gap between Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi indicates a close election

and therefore the crucial issue is who can take credit for the economic growth between

2010-2015 and can be relied on to continue to grow the economy well again between 2015-

2020. The BJP will continue to exploit the poor performance of the RJD between 2000 and

2005

Election results are closely correlated to economic performance and Nitish Kumar is likely

to do much better if he enjoys unstinted RJD support on the ground. RJD's poor alliance

choices (or lack of choices) must serve as a lesson for it to ensure unstinted and unqualified

support for Nitish Kumar to return to power in 2015. This will be seen by voters as being

a responsible party which can be trusted to replicate Nitish Kumar's governance model. A

defeat in 2015 could lead to the RJD being out of power between 2005 and 2025. Not many

parties have survived that long without power.


Phase 1: Overview
Polls were held in 49 seats covering 10 districts namely Banka, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Jamui,

Khagaria, Lakhisarai, Munger, Nawada, Samastipur and Sheikhpura on 12th Oct. 2015. 1.35 crore

voters are entitled to exercise their franchise. 4 seats are reserved for the SC/ST category while

balance 45 are for general category.

Muslims and Mahadalits hold the keys to 37% of the seats going to polls in Phase I.

7 of these 49 seats have sizeable Muslim population of >16.5% (their average population

in the state) namely Kalyanpur, Pirpainti, Bhagalpur, Bihpur, Gopalpur, Kahalgaon and

Nathnagar.

6 seats Barbigha, Rajauli, Hisua, Nawada, Gobindpur and Warsaliganj have >17%

Mahadalit population (much higher than 10% average population in the state).

6 seats Jamui, Jhajha, Chakai, Sikandra, Seikhpura and Tarapur their population is >11%.

A total of 586 candidates are in the fray for the first phase of polls. While Morwa and
Moiuddinnagar seats in Samastipur have maximum 18 candidates each, Warsaliganj in Nawada

and Teghra in Begusarai have minimum six and seven candidates respectively.

The main contest is between Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance and Nitish /

Lalu led MGB alliance which consists of Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress.

Three other parties / combinations are determined to give the main contenders a run for their

money.
Third Front (consisting of Mulayams Samajwadi Party, Pawars Nationalist Congress

Party, Pappu Yadavs Jan Adhikar Party and three other small parties),

Left Front (alliance of 6 communist parties Communist Party of India, Communist Party

of India -Marxist, Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist and three other small

parties) and

Mayawatis Bahujan Samaj Party

Janata alliance has a lot at stake in this phase as it won 34 seats in 2010 assembly polls (JDU 29,

RJD 4 and Congress 1) though fighting separately and not as partners. NDA won 13 seats (BJP

13) and others namely CPI and JMM one seat each.

Its very interesting to note here that JDU candidate defeated RJD / Congress candidates in 20 / 29

seats, who are now partners. Congress and RJD finished 2nd in 30 seats and in 20 of these seats

winner was JDU.

2010 AE 1st 2nd


JDU 29 4
RJD 4 25
INC 1 5
BJP 13 1
LJP 0 11
CPI 1 1
JMM 1 0
Independents 0 2
Total 49 49
From Janata alliance, JDU is contesting on 24, RJD on 18 and Congress on 7 seats. From NDA,

BJP is fighting on 27 seats, LJP 13 seats, HAM 3 seats and RLSP 6 seats. JDU has dropped 5 of

its sitting MLAs and is facing rebellion in some seats.

In Lok Sabha polls held in May 2014, NDA was leading in 36 seats (BJP 21, LJP 15) and Janata

in 12 seats (JDU 1, RJD 10, Congress 1) as shown below. RJD was runner up in 28 seats. It may

be noted that while RJD fought in alliance with Congress, JDU fought LS polls along with CPI.

2014 LS 1st 2nd


JDU 1 8
RJD 10 28
INC 1 2
BJP 21 8
LJP 15 2
CPI 1 1
Total 49 49

7 of these seats witnessed tight contest in 2010 with victory margins of less than 3,000 votes. In

12 seats the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes. 8 of these tight contests were won by Janata

alliance. 5,000 is considered a decent margin in assembly polls. 27 seats were decided by more

than 10,000 votes difference, denoting comfortable wins. With two major contenders this time and

2-3 spoilers, will margins reduce further, it remains to be seen.

Margin 0-3,000 3-5,000 5-10,000 >10,000

No. of Seats 7 5 10 27

Source: indiavotes.com, politicalbaaba.com

Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided are Sadanand Singh (8 time Congress MLA),

Shakuni Chaudhary (HAM state president), Pasupati Kumar Paras (Paswans brother), Pappu
Yadav and Arijit Shashwat (Ashwini Kr. Chaubeys son) etc.
All parties are facing rebel candidates, almost one-third seats are witnessing rebels all set to disturb

calculations of official candidates. Prominent among them are Kalyanpur (Paswan cousin

contesting on JDU ticket), Kahalgaon (BJP & RJD both facing rebels), Bhagalpur (Ashiwni

Choubeys son from BJP facing rebel), Jamui & Warsinagar (last time JDU candidate joined BJP),

Mohiuddinnagar (RJD rebel joined Pappu Yadav) and Warsaliganj (Congress candidate joined

BJP).

This phase is very important for both alliances. Better performance in these seats, will give a head
start to either alliance. While Janata would want to maintain its 2010 performance (34 seats), NDA

would like to maintain its Lok Sabha leads in these assembly segments (36 seats). A very keen

battle ahead.
Phase 2: Overview
Phase II of the much awaited Bihar elections concluded on Oct. 16. Polls were be held in 32 seats

covering 6 districts namely Kaimur, Rohtas, Arwal, Jehanabad, Aurangabad and Gaya. 85.86 lakh

voters are entitled to exercise their franchise. 7 seats are reserved for the SC/ST category while

balance 25 are for general category.

Mahadalits hold the keys to 22 / 32 seats (69%) going to polls in Phase II.

Gaya district (6 seats) has the highest proportion of Mahadalits (19% vs state avg. of 10%)

Sherghati, Barachatti, Bodh Gaya, Gaya Town, Belaganj and Wazirganj.

Jehanabad district (6 seats) proportion of Mahadalits is 17.3% vs state avg. of 10% Arwal,

Kurtha, Jahanabad, Ghoshi, Atri and Makhadumapur.

Kaimur district (4 seats) percentage of Mahadalits is 14.8% vs state avg. of 10%

Ramgarh, Mohania, Bhabua and Chainpur.

Aurangabad district (6 seats) proportion of Mahadalits is 12.3% state avg. of 10%) Kutumba,

Aurangabad, Rafiganj, Gurua, Imamganj and Tikari.

Muslim population in none of the seats is higher than their average 16.5% population in the state.

A total of 456 candidates are in the fray for the first phase of polls (average 14 per seat, higher

than 12 of Phase I). The Election Commission has cut short the time for voting by one to two hours

in as many as 23 constituencies that would go to poll on October 16, depending upon its perception

of the threat from outlawed Naxalite groups. Only 9 out of a total of 32 seats would see voting
from 7am to 5pm.
The average turnout in these 32 seats was 52.0% in 2010 assembly polls. While Atri recorded the

lowest turnout (46.5%), Chainpur and Ramgarh recorded the highest turnout (60.4%). In Lok

Sabha polls held in May 2014, the turnout increased to 53.1%.

The main contest is between Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance and Nitish /

Lalu led grand Janata alliance which consists of Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and

Congress. Third Front (consisting of Mulayams Samajwadi Party, Pawars Nationalist Congress

Party, Pappu Yadavs Jan Adhikar Party and three other small parties), Left Front (alliance of 6
communist parties Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India -Marxist, Communist

Party of India Marxist-Leninist and three other small parties) and Mayawatis Bahujan Samaj

Party which has a strong presence in these seats in Phase II.

Janata alliance has a lot at stake in this phase as it won 20 seats in 2010 assembly polls (JDU 18,

RJD 2) though fighting separately and not as partners. NDA won 10 seats (BJP 9, LJP 1) and

independents 2 seats. Congress and RJD finished 2nd in 20 seats and in 14 of these seats JDU was

the winner.

2010 AE 1st 2nd 3rd


JDU 18 2
RJD 2 19 1
INC 0 1 14
BJP 9 1 2
LJP 1 4 1
Left Front 0 2 3
Others / Independents 2 3 11
Total 32 32 32
From Janata alliance, JDU & RJD is contesting on 13 each and Congress on 6 seats. From NDA,

BJP is fighting on 16 seats, LJP 3 seats, HAM 7 seats and RLSP 6 seats. JDU has dropped 5 of its

sitting MLAs and is facing rebellion in some seats.

In Lok Sabha polls held in May 2014, NDA was leading in 30 seats (BJP 19, RLSP 11), Janata in

1 (RJD 1) and BSP (1) as shown below. RJD was runner up in 18 and Congress in 12 seats. It may

be noted that while RJD fought in alliance with Congress, JDU fought LS polls along with CPI. If

we aggregate the vote share of JDU, RJD and Congress, then Janata alliance would be leading in
20 seats and NDA in 12 seats only.

Winner if
JDU+RJD+Congress
Vote Share
2014 LS 1st 2nd Agrregated
JDU 0 0 0
RJD 1 18 13
INC 0 12 7
BJP 19 1 8
RLSP 11 1 4
BSP 1 0 0
Total 32 32 32

7 of these seats witnessed tight contest in 2010 with victory margins of less than 3,000 votes. In 9

seats the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes. 6 of these tight contests were won by Janata

alliance, 2 by NDA and 1 by Others. 5,000 is considered a decent margin in assembly polls. Half

of the seats were decided by more than 10,000 votes difference, denoting comfortable wins. With

two major contenders this time and 2-3 spoilers, will margins reduce further, lets see.

Margin 0-3,000 3-5,000 5-10,000 >10,000


No. of Seats 7 2 7 16
Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided from NDA are Jiten Ram Manjhi (from 2 seats),

Jawahar Prasad, Ram Prasad Chaurasiya, Rajendra Singh (could be NDA CM), Dr. Prem Kumar

(another CM candidate of NDA. From Janata alliance, Uday Narayan Chaudhary, Mahabali Singh,

Mohd. Iliyas Hussain are prominent candidates.

All parties are facing rebel candidates (almost half of 32 seats going to polls). NDA is facing rebels

in 7 seats in Chenari, Sasaram, Barachatti, Bodh Gaya, Karakat, Bhabua & Nabinagar. Janata is

facing rebel candidates in 8 seats Atri, Mohania, Chainpur, Karahgar, Goh, Bodh Gaya, Chenari
and Kurtha.

This phase is very important for both alliances. Better performance in these seats, will give a head

start to either alliance in earlier phases. While Janata would want to maintain its 2010 performance

(20 seats), NDA would like to maintain its Lok Sabha leads in these assembly segments (30 seats).

A very keen battle ahead.


Phase 3: Overview
Phase 3 of the fiercely fought Bihar elections is scheduled for tomorrow wherein 50 seats covering

6 districts will go to polls. 1.45 crore voters are entitled to exercise their franchise in the six

districts of Bhojpur, Buxar, Nalanda, Patna, Saran and Vaishali. In the last state elections in 2010

while NDA led in Bhojpur, Janata alliance was leading in 5 districts and Buxar was a tie.

District wise Seat wise Position in 2010 State Polls

Janata
District Total NDA Alliance
Saran 10 4 6
Bhojpur 7 4 3
Buxar 4 2 2
Nalanda 7 1 6
Patna 14 6 8
Vaishali 8 3 5

Dalits / Mahadalits have significant presence (15%-20% of population ) in 40/50 seats and will

play an important role in determining the winner. Muslim population in none of the seats is higher

than their average 16.5% population in the state and it is in the range of 7%-10% in these seats. So

they are unlikely to influence the outcome alone in any seat.

District wise Mahadalit & SC/ST population

District Muslim SC/ST


Saran 6.2% 12.2%
Bhojpur 7.3% 15.7%
Buxar 10.4% 14.7%
Nalanda 7.5% 20.0%
Patna 7.8% 15.7%
Vaishali 9.5% 20.8%

A total of 808 candidates are in the fray for the third phase of polls (average 16 per seat, higher

than 12 of Phase I & 14 of Phase 2). The average turnout in these 50 seats was 50.8% in 2010

assembly polls. While Nalanda recorded the lowest turnout (48.5%), Vaishali recorded the highest
turnout (53.8%). In Lok Sabha polls held in May 2014, the turnout increased to 51.9% with the

same lowest and highest polling districts.

The main contest is between Bhartiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance and Nitish /

Lalu led grand Janata alliance which consists of Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and

Congress. BSP & Left Front have a decent presence in these seats having finished 3rd in 5 and 8

seats respectively in 2010.

Janata alliance has a lot at stake in this phase as it won 30 seats in 2010 assembly polls (JDU 23,

RJD 7) though fighting separately and not as partners. NDA won 20 seats all by BJP. Congress

and RJD finished 2nd in 25 seats and in half of these seats they were defeated by JDU.

From Janata alliance, RJD is contesting in half the seats (25), JDU on 18 and Congress on 7. From

NDA, BJP is fighting on 34 (70%), LJP 8 seats, HAM 4 seats and RLSP 4 seats. JDU has dropped

5 of its sitting MLAs and is facing rebellion in some seats.

Seat wise in 2010 assembly polls

Party Winner Runner Up 3rd


JDU 23 6 0
RJD 7 23 3
INC 0 2 11
BJP 20 1 0
LJP 0 14 2
IND 0 4 20
Left Front 0 0 8
Others 0 0 1
BSP 0 0 5
Total 50 50 50

In Lok Sabha polls held in May 2014, NDA was leading in 37 seats (BJP 25, LJP 12) and Janata

alliance in 13 (RJD 9, JDU 4) as shown below. Janata alliance was runner up in 35 seats (RJD 18,
Congress 12 and JDU 5). It may be noted that while RJD fought in alliance with Congress, JDU

fought LS polls along with CPI.

If we aggregate the vote share of JDU, RJD and Congress, then Janata alliance would be leading

in 28 seats and NDA in 22 seats only. However, this may not be the west way to analyze it as an

assumption that seamless transfer of votes will happen from JDU to RJD / Congress and vice-a-

versa is flawed.

Assembly segment wise leads in 2014 LS polls

Runner If JDU+Cong+INC
Party Winner Up fought together
JDU 4 5 7
RJD 9 18 18
INC 0 12 3
BJP 25 9 15
LJP 12 4 7
BSP 0 2 0
Total 50 50 50

In the 22 seats NDA was leading in Lok Sabha it had an average vote share advantage of 15%

(difficult for Janata alliance to negate this advantage). In the 15 seats which swung to Janata

alliance after aggregating JDU+Cong+RJD votes on each seat, BJP was trailing, on an average by

only 5.9%. This is the lowest vote share gap in the three phases which have gone to polls in seats

which have swung in Janatas favour because of aggregation. For instance it was lagging by 9.7%

votes in such type of seats in Phase 2.

Assembly segment wise margins in terms of vote shares in 2014 LS polls

Victory Margin 0-5% 5-10% >10%


NDA 2 7 13
Janata 6 7 15
7 of these seats witnessed tight contest in 2010 with victory margins of less than 3,000 votes. In 9

seats the victory margin was less than 5,000 votes. 6 of these tight contests were won by Janata

alliance, 2 by NDA and Others won a single seat (5,000 is considered a decent margin in assembly

polls) Half of the seats were decided by more than 10,000 votes difference, denoting comfortable

wins. In the seats which Janata alliance won, the average margin was 10,620 while in the seats

which NDA won the average margin was higher at 11,043 votes. With two major contenders this

time and 2-3 spoilers, will margins reduce further. This remains to be seen

Victory margins in terms of votes in 2010 state polls

Victory
Margin 0-3,000 3-5,000 5-10,000 >10,000
No. of Seats 4 2 10 34

Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided from NDA are Nand Kishore Yadav and BJPs

Yadav face in Bihar. From Janata alliance are Lalus two sons Tejaswi and Tejpratap and JDUs

Shyam Rajak.

Almost all parties are facing rebel candidates (13 / 50 seats based on Dainik Jagran news article).

16 sitting MLAs have been denied tickets (due to whatever reason) and this one of the reasons for

high number of rebels.

This phase is very important for both alliances. Better performance in these seats, will give a lead

to either alliance in earlier phases. While Janata would want to maintain its 2010 performance (30

seats), NDA would like to maintain its Lok Sabha leads in these assembly segments (37 seats). A

very keen battle ahead.


OPINION POLLS
NDA marginally ahead in final opinion polls, but can they win the election?
The Final opinion polls instead of providing a uniform direction, created more confusion. While

the Nielsen Poll suggests that NDA has overtaken the MGB alliance, the Cicero poll suggests that

the NDA momentum has reversed and the MGB has begun to pick momentum. Two other surveys,

Axis-IBN and Zee are at the two ends of the forecasts, IBN predicting a sweep for the MGB and

Zee predicting a sweep for the NDA. I am excluding the last two from the analysis simply because

I did not consider them in the previous analysis. The opinion polls trend chart looks as follows

The NDA alliance appears to have gained nearly 2% points since the Lok Sabha election 2014. On

the other hand, the MGB alliance appears to have lost about 4.3% vote since 2014. However, at

the moment the voting intention differences are within the margin of error and as things stand, the

election is too close to call.


However, here are a few things to consider

a. MGB has not gained a single % of vote since the Lok Sabha election in any of the final key polls

b. NDA has consistently gained vote share in all of the final key polls

c. Over the last month, MGB on an average has lost 2% vote while NDA gained nearly a % vote

If you look at the Delhi opinion poll trend a day before the elections, the chart looks very similar

to the election in Bihar, at least until Election Day.

In other words, the momentum is with the NDA in Bihar. In past elections, undecided voters

have usually shifted in favor of the party with the momentum (e.g. Delhi).

The scale and size of the NDA victory will depend on the campaign over the next 3 weeks. The

only way that the MGB can turn this election around is by changing the tenor of the campaign

from negative to positive or if the opinion polls are wrong. Both look difficult at this moment.
One other possibility is that given the strong MGB seat firewall, they might just scrape through

with a marginal seat advantage in spite of losing 3-4% vote share and probably with the BJP even

ahead on vote share.


Summary of Opinion Polls
How Bihar Elections are uncannily similar to Delhi Elections?
A few pointers on how Bihar polls are strikingly similar to Delhi elections held in the beginning

of the year.

1. Bi-polar contest: The contest in Bihar is between two main contenders BJP led NDA

and JDU led Janata alliance similar to Delhi where it was between BJP and AAP. Congress

was not in contention from Day 1 in Delhi and has a far insignificant role in Bihar.

2. Acrimonious campaign: Bi-polar nature of contest and high stakes for both Modi-Shah

Jodi and survival / revival of Nitish / Lalu have reduced the quality of campaign with a lot

of below the belt strikes from both sides. Similar situation was evident in Delhi when BJP

and AAP supporters clashed on social media and other platforms literally deriding each

other.

3. Opinion polls divided: Like Delhi, opinion polls are divided on who will win Bihar.

Majority say NDA will win (Zee, ABP, C Voter, News Nation, Leadtech, Data Mineria) ,

some say Janata alliance will win (CNN-IBN, India Today). Similar case was visible in

Delhi were some said BJP will win, some said AAP will win & some said a hung assembly.

4. Nitish maintains a clear lead for most suitable CM candidate like Kejriwal: Even in

polls wherein it shows that NDA will win, Nitish Kumar is shown as the most popular CM
candidate. This was evident in Delhi wherein Kejriwal remained the most popular CM

choice across polls. In both cases the gap did narrow before the start of voting day. Sushil

Modi was seen catching up with Nitish, while Kejriwal lost some points after Kiran Bedi

was announced as CM candidate of NDA.

5. Significance of polls: Both polls have assumed great significance. Delhi was important for

opposition and anti-Modi forces to stop the BJP juggernaut which was on a roll after

winning 4 state elections. Bihar too is important for the same reason. The fact that it is a

much bigger state (40 MPs vs 7 MPs) makes it all the more significant for anti-BJP / anti-
Modi forces. If NDA loses in Bihar, it will give confidence to opposition and then there
could be a Janata Party like experiment in 2019 Lok Sabha with Congress leading the

brigade.

6. Results: ? Yet to be announced as polls still underway. Delhi was a sweep by AAP. If it is

a sweep by either of the alliances then these uncanny similarities will get further

strengthened.

Lets wait and watch till 8th November, 2015.


Satta Bazaar and Bihar elections

Source: 13 Elections, 2012-15, Newspaper reports


The Satta bazaar has been very accurate (92%) in predicting which party would win the most seats

in an election. This level of accuracy is in line with exit and opinion poll forecasts (Read my

chapter on accuracy of exit polls here). However, the bookies have been very inaccurate when it

comes to predicting the exact number of seats. In fact, in 69% of the forecasts missed the final
tally by more than 10%. The equivalent number for exit polls is 58%. Interestingly, the Satta

bazaar underestimated the final tally of the winner in 54% of the cases.

Taking the above factors into account, the current Satta Bazaar forecast for Bihar seems to
suggest an easy NDA victory in Bihar. However, it is best to rely on a Satta bazaar forecast closer

to election than one 2 weeks before the election.


ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Is Nitish Kumar unnecessarily muddling his strategy in Bihar?
The results of the opinion polls were interesting. While the BJP did not seem to have made much

of a headway, the Janata alliance seems to have lost 4% of their vote.

The below chart is from the Delhi elections early this year. By end of December, a month and half

before the election, the AAP had gained just 1% of vote while the BJP had lost close to 6% of its

vote versus the Lok Sabha election. Between early January to Election Day the Aam Aadmi party

gained about 18% vote share while the BJP lost 8% share during the same period.
Coming back to Bihar, a similar trend could mean a disaster for the Janata Alliance. It is possible

that they would lose 2-3% of their vote share but the BJP alliance could clean up the rest of the

opposition to gain 5-6% votes and establish a 5-6% lead helping them sweep Bihar with a huge

majority.

What is going wrong with the Nitish Campaign?


Many have suggested that Laloo is the problem for the Nitish campaign. In my view, that is not

the case as he continues to hold his vote bank together. The real issue is Mr. Nitish Kumar's overall
campaign management. The following analysis will illustrate my point.

This following chart is an analysis Mr. Kumar's speech during the recent 'swabimaan' (self-

respect) rally. This rally was important because it brought all the alliance partners together on a

single platform.
The analysis of the speech produces astounding results. Mr. Kumar spent 60% of the time speaking

negatively about Mr. Modi and his party, 17% of the time talking mostly about his promises to the

youth, rural Bihar and women. Only 6% of the time was spent talking about his achievements. A

similar analysis of Mr. Kejriwal's speech in January would have yielded 80% of the time being

spent on positive messages around his previous 49 day government as well as plans for the next 5

years. My own analysis of negative campaigns confirms the fact that negative campaigns do not
work. So, Mr. Kumar spending 68% of his speech on the opposition and general stuff instead of

touting his achievements and his promises for the next 5 years is simply not an effective strategy

While the caste alliance of Mr. Kumar may not leak significantly due to this strategy, it is highly

likely that many of the 17% non-bjp, non-Janata voters will shift towards the BJP at the fag end of

the campaign just like they did in the Delhi election (towards AAP). The Janata alliance, its leaders,

its spokespeople and their candidates must emphasize on the positives 80% of the time instead of

running a thoroughly negative campaign which seems to the case currently. There must be more

emphasis on the youth and women as both segments together can deliver Bihar to the Janata

alliance. Of course, the agriculture and rural segments cannot be ignored either.

While the BJP may have challenges with the caste arithmetic, the poor campaign management by

the Janata alliance is likely to deliver numerous neutral voters into the BJP fold and win them a

huge majority. This is indeed an exciting and close election but it looks like the Janata Middle

order is playing out too many balls defensively instead of playing on their strengths. As Mr. Shastri

says, all results are possible from here.......


The unfortunate negativism in the Bihar campaign

I am sharing 3 charts analyzing the content of speeches by each of Nitish, Modi and Rahul. They

are organized by dates. Mr. Nitish Kumar's speech is dated August while Mr. Modi and Mr. Gandhi

spoke in September

Overall Summary:
1. A majority of time in all the speeches has been spent on negative attacks. (Net Speech Content

tone: Nitish: (-) 28, Modi: (-) 16, Rahul: (-) 39) This is the main reason why the swings in the

opinion polls have been small. None of the parties are yet to close the deal

2. Mr. Nitish Kumar's speech has the highest loading of promises and the lowest time spent on

achievements. Not spending a lot more time on achievements is odd because his satisfaction

ratings as CM are very high.


3. Mr. Modi's speech has the highest loading of positive conversations. However, the time spent

on positive messaging seems to be much lower than during the Lok Sabha election. Also, time

spent on negative attacks continues to be quite high. A much more positive messaging could

have swung a much larger proportion of votes in BJP's favor


4. Mr. Gandhi's speech had the highest proportion of negative attacks. I am not in agreement
with this because neither opinion polls nor past academic history support this strategy.
Chart 1: Nitish Speech

Chart 2: Modi Speech

Chart 3: Rahul Speech


THE VOTING
Bihar Phase 1: Voter Turnout analysis
The phase-1 turnout data has thrown up some interesting early trends, however it is too early to

conclude anything out of these trends. We should wait for a couple of phases to conclude anything

substantive and definitive.

Overall increase in Turnout was quite a disappointment given the intensity of the campaign and

the hypothesis of returning farm and industrial labour. At the end for about 12 million voters, there

were about 120K additional voters. Therefore, my estimate is that every constituency saw a 2600

increase in number of voters. The average gap between the two alliances in 2014 was 19110. I am

not touching upon gender participation as we have little data available at the constituency level.

However, my own understanding from survey data is that higher gender participation is favourable

for the NDA.

Chart 1: Increase in voter turnout (from 2014 election) by party contesting in that
constituency

Seats contested by INC and HAM have witnessed the highest increase in Voter Turnout. Every

single % increase in Voter turnout would imply 2.5K additional voters. So a rough estimate for

Congress constituencies would be about 10K of additional voters assuming 147K voters in 2014.

In case of JD (U), this would be between 1.5-2K. The average gap between winning and losing

party in 2014 was 19K.


Chart 2: Voter turnout by pairs of contestants

When you look at pairs of contestants, it is fairly clear that either the INC has been clearly pushing

more of their voters to turn up on Election Day or that the BJP and LJP have specifically targeted

INC seats as they probably see it as the weakest partner.


Chart 3: Voter TO by seats classified as Strong by party (basis 2014 election)
I have classified a seat as Strong on the basis of the sum total of MGB partner or NDA partners

as per their performance in the 2014 election. The trend is fairly clear, MGB Strong seats have

seen a much higher jump than NDA strong seats. However, one must note that in the 2014 elections

the average gap between MGB and NDA in MGB strong seats was about 16%. The gap between

the two alliances in NDA strong seats was about 8%.

Overall Takeaway
While there are some interesting early trends, it is difficult to decipher its implications as of now. A

combination of data points suggest that NDA has effected higher TO but those same data
points also suggest that the increase was feeble at best and not decisive. However, we could

draw more definitive conclusions should we see these trends repeating over the next 2 phases.

Caution

a. Lok Sabha election results do not necessarily correlate strongly with Assembly elections.

b. Voter TO has been extrapolated from a combination of data available at 4PM and

published district level TO data as ECI is yet to publish 5PM data at the constituency level
Are things really bad for the BJP after phase 1

A look at how the Bihar polling scene is shaping up.

The Swarajya magazine recently published a detailed review of Bihar Phase 1 polls called The

pendulum swings again. It made the case that the BJP has not done as well as expected in Phase

1. A whole range of reasons were attributed. We present an alternative perspective with the same

ground level information.

To start with, let us look at some of information and estimates from the 5Forty3 report and compare

that with previously available data.

It appears from the data that both MGB and NDA have under-performed (as against survey

estimates) with NDA having underperformed much more than MGB. But the big story is that the

others as a group are doing much better than the opinion polls predicted. Logically, this can be

explained by the likely increase in the number of rebel candidates across all parties.
This increased level of rebel candidates can be explained by a variety of factors denial of tickets

to sitting MLAs, aspiring candidates who had to be rejected to accommodate allies or simply to

accommodate the new caste arithmetic and so on. In some cases, tickets have been given to rebels

of other parties.

For example, in some seats BJP has given tickets to rebels of other parties. Many candidates who

have been denied tickets are contesting as rebel candidates. Where there are no rebel candidates,

dissidents are discreetly canvassing against official candidates. Many BJP MLAs are said to
have joined the JDU. Allies are also facing similar dissidence.

In Phase I, the NDA was facing serious threats from rebels in four seats: Kalyanpur, Chakai,

Bhagalpur and Kahalgaon. In Phase 2, both alliances face seven rebels each. Assuming the above

hypothesis to be true, one can easily explain the increase in share of others.

However, here is the catch, the average number of candidates is down from 14 in 2010 to 12 in

2015. This is despite the fact that the number of alliances contesting the elections has actually

increased. Others (small parties and independents) have been a significant force to reckon with in

Bihar politics. They have garnered vote share in the range of 25%-30% in state polls since 1977

and an average of 3,000 votes per candidate. While votes per candidate (others) has reduced in the

last election (2.800 levels), caste combinations make it difficult to estimate the extent of damage

caused by these candidates on either alliance.

An average of twelve candidates contested from 49 seats in Phase I (vs 14 in 2010). With two main

contenders, this leaves ten contestants per seat in others category (Third Front / Left Front / Rebels

/ Independents etc.). Based on past trends, Others could garner anywhere between 10%-18% vote
share. In LS polls held in May 2014, others obtained 15% votes. In that sense we believe that an

estimate of 18% is quite fair.


The third factor is the momentum. Looking at the chart above, it is fairly clear that there has been

a small negative momentum for the MGB and a small positive momentum for the NDA over the

last 2 months. Therefore, we believe that it will be extremely unusual for the momentum to

suddenly reverse on Election Day. Taking the above three factors into consideration fewer

candidates, historic vote share won by others and momentum for the last few months, we believe

that the share of others is perhaps closer to 18% and it is possible that share of NDA is getting

understated on account of fear factor owing to these dissident candidates and Bahubalis.

The MGB trend seems to be in line with the patterns of the last two months. If we were to transfer

the 3% from others to the NDA, the final NDA share will be closer to 40% instead of 37%. This

translates to a net swing of 7 %( 5% against MGB and 2% for NDA) in favor of NDA.

The following table illustrates the impact of 7% swings across the various phases.

Phase Pro NDA Swing Minimum Seats that can be


won from MGB

1 7% 4

2 7% 8

3 7% 11

4 7% 14

5 7%

All Phases 7% 37 seats

If the NDA were to win all the 37 swing seats, they would hit 130 seats versus MGB at 107 seats.
One of the reasons for a high degree of disappointment amongst many NDA supporters is to do
with the expectation that there would be a momentum on Election Day. However, it is unfair to

expect the same level of momentum that was seen for example in Delhi. Here is why: nearly 9 out

of 10 people in Bihar live in villages.

88.7% of Bihar lives in rural hinterland (amongst the highest in the country, highest among

BIMARU states). Bihar has below 1% of total household internet users which is lowest in India.

Even when it comes to television, Bihar is the lowest ranked for television ownership in states

(14.5%). In these circumstances, new innovative, social media and digital methods of campaign
may not be as effective as traditional door to door campaigns.

People flocking to Modis rallies have to be contacted after the rally (face-to-face) to convert them

into votes. BJP may be struggling on this aspect because of lack of committed cadre in all

constituencies.

For example, BJP had no presence in 21 of the Phase-1 constituencies in 2010 Assembly election.

While a base was built for the Lok Sabha election, it is still not adequate to convert strategy to

results. Janata alliance has Prashant Kishore, (NDAs poll manager in LS) on its side to guide

Har-ghar-dastak campaign. The real issue in the next phases are not the campaign so far but the

recent comments by the RSS chief on reservations as well as the comments by various claimants

to the post of CM in Bihar.

Both can have serious repercussions on the delicate caste arithmetic fashioned by the BJP. We

always felt that this was going to be a competitive election and nothing has changed our view so

far. Each seat is being fought bitterly and while the BJP is probably doing as well as the opinion

polls and the MGB continues to lose vote share versus Lok Sabha election, the caste arithmetic
and Nitishs leadership advantage still favors the MGB. The NDA alliance will have to do really

well in Phase-2, 3 and 4 to lock this election.


What May be Working & What May Not be Working for Nitish in Bihar Polls? (Phase-1
and 2 Analysis)
As Phase 2 elections have been completed and 81 / 243 (one-third) seats have gone for polls, I take

this opportunity to see what may be working and what may not be for Nitish Kumar on the ground

so far. This elections is very important for Modi-Shah as well as Nitish-Lalu. If Janata alliance

loses it would have an impact on the political career of the two old friends turned foes turned

friends again. If BJP led NDA loses, it has far greater national implications and could become a

major cause of embarrassment for Modi-Shah.

Majority of the opinion polls predict a NDA victory (except for CNN-IBN and India Today-

Cicero). Most polls show that momentum is with NDA. Not only that, the gap between Sushil

Modi and Nitish Kumar for most preferred CM has also been narrowing.

Now lets see what may be working for Nitish.

1. NDAs over-dependence on Modi

Modi is the star campaigner for BJP. This is clearly visible. BJP is going to bombard the state with

40 of his rallies this month. BJP doesnt have enough local faces who can match Nitish-Lalu

charisma. There is a sense of over-dependence on Modi charisma for BJP to sail through. This

speaks of lethargy on the part of local leadership. Modi was missed in the entire month of

September wherein he couldnt do many rallies because of his US trip.

On the contrary, Nitish and Lalu have been silently campaigning without much fanfare. They are

Janata alliances biggest crowd pullers and have cleverly divided their work load as per seat

distribution.
Additionally, the satisfaction score of Modi in Bihar is marginally low (58% vs national score of

61%), so this strategy could have limitations (Source: TOI-Ipsos Poll).

There are a dozen if not less CM aspirants (like Delhi, but of a much larger magnitude) could cost

BJP dearly which doesnt help. Many state leaders (Mangal Panday, Nand Kishore Yadav, Sushil

Modi, Dr. Prem Kumar, Rameshwar Prasad Chaurasia, Shahnawaz Hussain, CP Thakur etc) and

cabinet ministers (Giriraj Singh, Radhey Mohan Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad) are CM aspirants in

Bihar.

2. NDA Allies struggling based on ground feedback

BJP is contesting 160 seats and allies LJP, HAM and RLSP are contesting 83 seats. Initially, BJP

wanted to contest 180 seats but entry of Manjhi complicated matters. Reason for BJP wanting to

contest maximum seats is simple, while BJP was able to transfer votes to smaller parties

effectively, smaller parties were not able to reciprocate as evident in the Lok Sabha election.

Resultantly, BJP won 22/30, LJP 6/7 and RLSP 3/3 seats in Lok Sabha polls. The allies hit a

jackpot. Both Paswan and Kushwaha were able to bargain for and get seats on this basis in

assembly (approx. 7x of seats won). Only 42% Dalits / Mahadalits and 30% Koeris / Kushwahas

voted for NDA candidates in Lok Sabha.

RLSP is the worst affected according to reports. Despite Kushwaha tying up with NDA, JDU still

managed to get 30% vote share from Koeri/Kushwaha community in LS polls and RJD 15% (in

Modi wave). Aggregating these two Janata alliance is still preferred choice of the community and

Upendra Kushwaha unfortunately not their undisputed leader. RLSP is the Congress of NDA. LJP

seen to be also having a tough time due to tussle of one-upmanship between Manjhi and Paswan.
LJP was given 40 seats when its vote share has halved from 12.6% in Mar. 2005 to 6.7% in 2010

polls.
3. Nitish still leads the race for best suited to be CM of Bihar by far

While most of the opinion polls show NDA will emerge victorious (in-fact only two Cicero and

CNN IBN say Janata alliance will win), all of them have shown that Nitish is the top choice for

CM candidate amongst voters. This dichotomy is crucial in determining the results of the poll.

Nitish is fairly popular, 64% voters in Lok Sabha said they were satisfied with his govt.

performance. His net likeability score is slightly higher than PM Modi as per Lokniti-CSDS poll.

Have majority of the pollsters missed this point? Or Lalus jungle raj perception is expected to

negate Nitish popularity as CM. If Janata alliance wins, this could be the deciding factor. Only

time will tell.

4. Anti-reservation comment by RSS Chief

The anti-reservation comment repeated by RSS chief during time when polling is going on in Bihar

is baffling and that too after PM Modi categorically denied it. Lalu was the key architect of mandal

politics in the state and OBC have witnessed a rise in their stature (economical / social) after

introduction of reservation. This could pose serious challenge to BJPs efforts in making a dent

into the strong Yadav vote-bank of Lalu.

Though Amit Shah & RSS have clarified that the statement was made in context of Rajasthan,

some damage has already been done in Phase 1 & 2.


Lets see the factors which may not be working in favour of Nitish:

1. Arithmetic the basic rationale of Lalu-Nitish coming together is not working

Elections are not all about arithmetic but also about chemistry. Lalu-Nitish are old foes turned

friends. The whole alliance was based on the logic that JDU (Nitish) + RJD (Lalu) + Congress

vote share is more than NDA vote share (45.1% vs 39.1% in 2014 Lok Sabha elections). This logic

proved correct when first time they fought together in bye polls on 10 seats held after Lok Sabha
elections, Janata alliance bagged c.46% vote share and went onto win 6/10 seats. However, across

opinion polls maximum vote share which is being attributed to Janata alliance is 41% (leaving the

outlier CNN-IBN) while BJP is seen holding onto / increasing its vote share (39% to 44% range

excluding the outlier Zee News). This is a clear sign arithmetic not working, distrust between allies

Lalu-Nitish, Lalu-Congress could be the reason.

2. Caste wise representation in Bihar assembly

Caste system is deep rooted in Bihar. This elections is more about getting the caste combination

right rather than development (sad but true). The assembly make up in the last few assemblies is

not strictly as per the population metrics. For example, MLAs from Upper caste, Yadav Dalit /

Mahadalit and Bania community account for half of the strength of last few assemblies in Bihar

while they account for only 38% of population.

78% upper castes, 42% Dalit / Mahadalit and 53% Bania community voted for NDA in Lok Sabha.

In this elections, Upper castes, Dalits / Mahadalits and Banias are expected to back NDA and there

are more chances of MLAs from this community winning on NDA ticket rather than Janata alliance
ticket.
3. Congress struggling based on ground feedback

Like RLSP is for NDA, Congress is the weak link for Janata alliance in Bihar. It doesnt have a

strong cadre base left in Bihar. It is contesting in 41 seats and had won only 4 in 2010. Congress

appears lost with no strategy and hoping to piggyback on Nitish-Lalu charisma. It hopes to lead an

anti-Modi alliance in the center on the lines of Janata Party vs Congress tussle in 1977 (emergency)

if they win in Bihar. It is contesting against BJP candidates in 28 seats and is not the clear favourite

in these seats.

Working or Not Working Cant Say

1. Beef Ban Controversy

Beef ban has been made out to be a big issue recently. However, this could have an impact either

ways in Bihar. 85% Muslims voted for JDU and RJD in LS polls. So this vote bank is already

polarized. Nitish & Lalu know that giving too much importance to this item could also lead to

counter polarization amongst Hindus (witnessed in Uttar Pradesh due to Muzaffarnagar riots issue

in LS polls).

2. Rebels not only nuisance value but posing serious threat

Rebels are causing a big headache for NDA as well as Janata alliance. JDU won 115 seats in 2010.

In majority of these seats, RJD or Congress was the runner up as well as second runner up. In some

cases where JDU has given up the seat, they are facing rebels. In some cases where JDU has

retained seat, RJD / Congress candidates are contesting as independents or from Third / Left Front.
Not only Janata alliance, BJP is also facing rebels in some seats where it has denied tickets to

sitting MLAs. LJP fought 75 seats in 2010 and has got only 40 now. It is also facing dissidence in

some seats. Other (small parties / independents / rebels) could be the deciding factor in a tight

fight. They may / may not win many seats in the end but definitely have the ammunition to weaken

the prospects of either of the alliance candidates in many seats.

Historical vote share of Others in Bihar

Note: All parties and independents excluding Top 5 parties in terms of vote shares are considered

as Others.

So all in all a very close fight indeed. Ultimately it boils down to each seat, are there any rebels in

the seat, how many candidates of same caste are contesting in that seat, how many vote katwas are

there, is the sitting MLA facing anti-incumbency, how many migrant voters are there in the seat,

what is the caste wise break-up of the seat etc. etc.

Real fight begins now and moves away from TV studios to on the ground.