Bihar bypoll results will reshape politics

Verdict crucial for Nitish, Lalu, Cong and BJP

Bihar bypoll results will reshape politics

Less than 24 hours are left before the most eagerly awaited Assembly by-election results in Bihar will start trickling in. 

Leaders of various parties are waiting to find out whether Nitish Kumar was correct in joining hands with his erstwhile rival Lalu Prasad or whether he should have eventually rejoined the National Democratic Alliance bandwagon, following the drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections. 

The bypoll assumes significance on many counts as this is for the first time since 2005 that an election, be it parliamentary or Assembly, is being held at a time when Nitish is no more the chief minister. It is also the first time that Lalu, Nitish and the Congress have put their differences aside and joined hands to take on the ever-increasing clout of common foe Narendra Modi.

This is also the first major Assembly by-election being held after Nitish severed ties with the BJP in June last year. It will also decide whether Nitish, who, till recently was treated as “super chief minister”, will continue playing second fiddle to Lalu or chart his own independent route. 

The results could be a turning point in Bihar politics as they will decide whether it really was a battle between Mandal and Kamandal (BJP) or, as  the BJP alleges, whether the Lalu-Nitish reunion will herald the beginning of Jungle Raj II. 

In fact, it was Patna High Court which on August 6, 1997, had used the term “jungle raj” to describe the 15-day-old Rabri Government. Rabri was sworn in as chief minister in July 1997 after Lalu was sent to jail for the first time in the fodder scam. Since then, the BJP and its leader Sushil Kumar Modi in particular, have missed no opportunity in raising this phrase.

Nitish himself admitted in public that he never ever used the term. “All I had said was that I have established “kanoon ka raj” (rule of law) by ending “aatank ka raj” (reign of terror),” he said on the floor of the House.

“The by-election will decide the battle between jungle raj vs zehar raj,” says JD(U) MP Sabir Ali, dwelling at length on how “zehar raj” was actually a subtext to describe the dose of poisonous division which the BJP had been administering in the pluralistic society. 

The bypoll result is all the more awaited as it will arguably be the last election before the 2015 Assembly elections in Bihar. The results will lead to fresh realignments, splits in major parties and defections before the next year poll. 

Lastly, the BJP too needs to watch out the bypoll outcome as it will decide whether the saffron party still wants to ride piggyback on Narendra Modi, or will it provide an alternative to people under the leadership of Sushil Modi. 

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