Bihar assembly elections 2015: Will foes turned friends be able to corner BJP?
Bihar is all set to hold five-phased assembly elections from Oct 12 to Nov 5. Given the current political situation in Bihar, it seems the nation is going to witness one of the most exciting assembly elections ever.
Since 2010, when last assembly elections took place in Bihar, there has been a dramatic change in the personal equations among the state's political leaders. [Bihar Assembly poll dates announced: All you need to know]
In last five years, friends turned foes and foes also turned friends and some remained 'frenemies', that is considered a natural trait in the profession of politics.
A recap of 2010 assembly polls in Bihar
In 2010 assembly elections, Nitish Kumar led-Janata Dal (United) had won 115 seats and BJP had won 91 seats. As a result, the then alliance of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had a massive victory by winning 206 seats out of 243 seats.
As compared to 143 seats in 2005 assembly elections, Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) was reduced to corner with only 25 seats in its kitty.
Congress could not managed to do well by bagging just four seats as compared to nine seats in 2005.
Dramatical political twists
On June 16, 2013, after a lot of differences, Nitish Kumar ended 17-year-old political alliance with the NDA due to the divergence of opinion on basic issues.
In December 2014, it was a rare sight to see arch rivals- Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad to share dais and to find a sudden bonhomie in each other. [Nitish, Mulayam, Lalu share dais, slam PM Modi]
In February 2014, Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP stitched a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, just before the Lok Sabha elections were due to take place. In 2002, Paswan had parted ways with the NDA by resigning as coal minister, citing Gujarat riots.
In Jan 2015, while asserting that seat-sharing is not an issue, Paswan showered praises on BJP by saying, "BJP is our elder brother. Bihar polls will be fought under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership."
The rise and fall of Jitan Ram Manjhi
From parading their MLAs to prove majority to fighting over litchis and mangoes, former friends turned foes, Jitan Ram Mnajhi and Nitish Kumar have faced it all. [Bihar political instability-crisis or conspiracy: All you need to know]
70-year-old Manjhi served as Bihar's 23rd chief minister from May 20, 2014 to Feb 20,2015. In nine months of power, the then loyalist of Nitish Kumar and now a detractor, Manjhi's short tenure was no less than a roller-coaster ride.
From a blued-eyed-boy of JD(U) to a thorn in Nitish Kumar's eyes, the personal equation between the two leaders turned upside down.
Manjhi who once called himself a novice in politics and described his mentor Nitish Kumar as "Chanakya" of politics, said in Feb 2015, "I have spent 34 year in politics and worked on different posts as minister and legislator...he (Nitish) committed great mistake in assuming that I'll act like his puppet."
BJP used the dissension to the hilt and extended support to Manjhi.
Following the split, ousted Manjhi floated his own political party called, "Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and vowed to ‘expose' the real face of Nitish Kumar. [Jitan Manjhi floats new party Hindustan Awami Morcha, to contest on all 243 seats]
In May 2015, Manjhi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, fuelling speculation on a possible tie-up with BJP when he said he will be with a formation that is opposed to incumbent Nitish Kumar post-Assembly polls. [Jitan Manjhi meets Modi; asserts he is opposed to Nitish]
Janata Parivar merger
In an attempt to corner the NDA regime, the regional satraps vowed to stand united.
In April 2015, it was announced that the new outfit- Janata Parivar will be led by the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. The main constituents of Janata Parivar merger are Janata Dal United (JDU), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dai (Secular) (JDS) and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
Since these regional parties got decimated by the BJP in their respective states, after the Lok Sabha elections 2014 results, these parties decided to stand united. [Janata Parivar announces merger: Know all about new outfit]
JD (U)-RJD-Congress : The Grand Alliance
In what can be described as a master plan of the Congress party to strengthen its chances of gaining momentum in Bihar, it announced a tie-up with the RJD and the ruling JD(U).
Congress-JD(U) combine is something that was never witnessed in the history of Bihar politics. For the first time, they have entered a pact, whose significance will be proved only after Bihar assembly elections 2015 results.
For the time-being, it is like a huge political circus going on in the lanes of Bihar. Veteran politicians have kept their fingers-crossed and hoping for the tide to turn in their favour.
On Monday, June 8, the consensus was reached and it was confirmed that Nitish Kumar will be the chief minister if the trio combo wins. [Bihar elections 2015: Congress part of JD(U)-RJD alliance, confirms Nitish Kumar]
Who will be BJP's choice for CM in Bihar?
Although, it is a fact that BJP has never been in power in Bihar since 1952, (when first general elections took place in the state) this time, to prove its mettle, BJP is likely to project the seasoned politician Sushil Kumar Modi as its choice for the chief ministerial post. [In Pics: Popular faces of BJP in Bihar]
Other names that are doing the rounds are state unit BJP chief Mangal Pandey and some central ministers like Radha Mohan Singh, Rajeev Pratap Rudy and Ravi Shankar Prasad from Bihar.
However, the final name will be decided by the BJP's parliamentary board.
BJP National Spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain was quoted saying as, "We will accomplish our party president Amit Shah's 'Bihar Mission' and win at least 185 seats out of the total 243 in Bihar in the assembly polls this year."
BJP is also in a dilemma whether it should announce its candidate for the top post or bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.
BJP has to plan strategically
BJP, that is trying its best to come in power in Bihar this year, has to play its cards very safely.
It's decisions, at this crucial juncture, can prove to be magical like that in Haryana and Maharashtra and at the same time, any blunder, can prove to be a flop like Delhi's debacle. [Bihar polls: BJP looks to cash in on increased membership]
Will Amit Shah, the BJP's master strategist prove effective for Bihar?
BJP national president Amit Shah has already sounded a poll bugle in Bihar by launching a campaign, "Mission Bihar".
In the 243-member Bihar Assembly, JD(U) has 115 MLAs, BJP 88, RJD 24, Congress 5, CPI 1, Independents 5 (2 supporting JD-U) and 5 seats are vacant.