BJP’s win in Bihar bypoll a clarion call for Nitish

What does the outcome of Bihar’s by-election for the Kurhani Assembly mean for Nitish? Generally, by-elections are not taken that seriously except under some special considerations and factors as in Munugode of Telangana which was a prestige issue for the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

It was so because it’s chief, K Chandrasekhar Rao, has decided to take the Bharatiya Janata Party head on in his plans to go national. The previous Hyderabad civic elections and a couple of by-elections were the indicators. In Bihar, the situation was otherwise.

The Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, who dumped the NDA alliance recently and continued to remain the Chief Minister with the help of the Rashtriya Janata Dal support, was in a seven party alliance that took on the BJP here. There was no threat of the ruling party votes getting split here.

The alliance consisting of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United), Indian National Congress (INC), and Left parties including Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation-CPIML (Liberation) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM), looked formidable at least on paper.

Yet, it has lost the by-election with 3,662 votes to the BJP where Kedar Gupta bagged the seat defeating Kushwaha. This was the first test of strength for Nitish Kumar and it was a referendum of sorts for the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.

How will this impact the Government or the alliance in future. Mentioning the government is pertinent here because it is now seen as a defeat of Nitish Kumar’s stringent Prohibition and Excise policy. Kedar Gupta won the same seat as a BJP candidate in 2015 but lost the same when he contested as NDA candidate to RJD’s Anil Sahni who was later disqualified after getting jailed in a corruption case.

Kedar Gupta’s win now not only encourages the distractors of Nitish within the alliance but also will make him rethink on the Prohibition policy itself. Nitish is a known opportunist and he would not hesitate to dump anyone or anything for his convenience and win.

Kushwaha (Manoj), the RJD candidate who lost had no great image and it was wrong to field him. But, if Nitish needs RJD support, obviously, he has to do the bidding of RJD. However, what is now being talked about is Nitish’s liquor policy which has robbed the employment of a majority of SC community.

There is a 18 percent strong vote bank of the same in the segment that is lost now and the Prohibition and the ban on toddy have had their impact.

BJP If the resentment of the community is so high for the alliance to lose in a by-election too, what would be its impact in the next elections? Now there will be pressure on Nitish to rethink his harsh policy. This would automatically pose another problem to Nitish whose women vote bank swelled due to the ban on liquor.

RJD sure is not for prohibition. Kurhani has certainly queered the pitch for Nitish. Again, as it is Nitish, perhaps we should also consider whether he would dump the alliance itself for a patch up with the BJP in future.