Allies may change, but Nitish remains axis of Bihar politics | India News – Times of India

Allies may change, but Nitish remains axis of Bihar politics | India News – Times of India

PATNA: Politics is a game of possibilities, and no one knows this better than Bihar CM Nitish Kumar who has ditched enough allies over the years. His spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha polls has once again ensured he remains the alliance’s face in Bihar till next year’s assembly polls. More so, because former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi’s untimely death has left BJP without a stalwart in the state.
BJP can, of course, campaign using PM Modi’s name, as it did in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, but given Nitish’s considerable support base among the Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and women — JD(U) has won 12 of the 16 seats it was allotted under the seat-sharing arrangement — it would not want to distance him.
The EBC category comprising 130 small caste groups like Dhanuks, Kumhars, Kahars, Noniyas, Kewats, Nais, Mallahs, Telis and Tatmas, makes up 36% of Bihar’s electorate, as per the recent caste survey. Along with this group, Nitish was backed by support from his Kurmi-Koeri (Kushwaha) community. Kurmis are 2.9% of Bihar’s electorate and Koeris 4.2%. The CM also benefitted from the Mahadalit category comprising 21 castes that he helped create. Mahadalits account for some 10% of the state’s total vote.
Women form another pillar of support: Nitish reserved 50% of slots in panchayati raj institutions, urban local bodies and teaching jobs for them. He gave 35% reservation to women in all govt jobs and 33% quota to girl students in medical, engineering and sports institutions. And the blanket ban on liquor in Bihar reduced domestic violence. It’s not surprising that he’s 3.6 crore women voters.

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Also, vote transfer between BJP and JD(U) has never been an issue. NDA comprising BJP, JD(U), LJP (Ram Vilas), Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), Rashtriya Lok Morcha appeared to be winning as many as 32 seats in the state and one of the main reasons is smooth transfer of votes among allies.
Nitish, who has been Bihar CM for more than 17 years and aUnion minister for more than six years, is known to nurse ambitions of holding a top national-level post: PM, prez or vice-prez. Last time he was in NDA (July 2017 to August 2022), he had wanted to succeed M Venkaiah Naidu as VP. The late Sushil Modi had revealed this and insiders say BJP’s denial of Nitish’s demand had precipitated his turn towards Mahagathbandhan. Again, in Mahagathbandhan, Nitish tried to bring the opposition together to oust PM Modi in 2024, hoping he would be appointed INDIA bloc’s convenor, and PM if the bloc succeeded. But when Congress disappointed him, he rushed into NDA’s embrace.
Given these facts, Nitish remains the “axis” of state politics. Strangely, his flipflops has had no impact on voters this time. JD(U) has got 18.50% votes in Bihar, only 2% less than BJP’s 20.53%.

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