[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he slog over of the Bihar polls – the fifth and final round involving 57 seats in the Muslim-Yadav heartland of Seemanchal and Koshi regions – will see a bitter contest between ‘Mandal’ and `Kamandal’. Since the assessment of the first four phases have not thrown a clear winner, the outcome will be decided in this north Bihar region where migration, poverty and illiteracy are major factors along with Bangladeshi infiltration and fury of annual flood.
The election for the final phase will be held in Darbhanga, Madhubani, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar districts.
The Grand alliance , which is fighting the election on the plank of the return of the Mandal Raj, has a clear edge in the region where Muslims and Yadavs themselves can decide the outcome on more than two dozen seats. On the other hand, the BJP will hope that its attempt to polarize the Hindus will see its voters breaking the caste barriers to backs its brand of ‘Kamandal‘ politics.
Realisticly speaking, the BJP-led NDA will need more than a miracle to put up a decent fight in this region. For example, in assembly constituencies falling under Kishanganj, where the Muslim population stands nearly 65%, the BJP does not even have an outside chance to open its account.
Even if the six candidates of Asaddudin Owiasi-led outfit get a chunk of the Muslims votes in the Seemanchal regions, it could hardly make a major impact on the prospect of the Grand Alliance.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]F[/dropcap]rom all accounts, the Muslims are resorting to tactical voting with the sole purpose of defeating the NDA candidates. In such a scenario, the perception that All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaddudin Owaisi was there to divide their votes to help the BJP may further polarize Muslims. Media reports that Prime Minster Narendra Modi had a meeting with Owaisi ahead of the Bihar polls to discuss the election strategy have also made Owaisi look a suspect in the eyes of the minority community.
The Seemanchal regions consisting of Kishanganj, Purina, Araria and Kaithar have 24 seats out of which the BJP won 11 in the last assembly polls when it was a partner of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (U). But even at the peak of Modi’s popularity in the Lok Sabha poll campaign, the BJP lost all four Lok Sabha seats in Seeamanchal. This time the BJP’s tally in Seemacnchal could go down to eight (none in Kishanganj, three in Purnia, three in Katihar and two in Aararia). Most of the remaining seats will go to the Grand alliance. Owaisi or Pappu Yadav could win a couple of seats here and there.—or may end up with even wooden spoons.
In Madhepura where the Yadavs and Muslims together account for 45% votes, once again the NDA wills struggle to open its account though Pappu Yadav’s party may get a seat here. The NDA could hope to win three to four seats in Supaul and Saharsa, and at best expect to retain the seven seats it had won in Darbhanaga and Madhubani in the 2010 assembly polls. Put together, its tally should be below twenty seats in this crucial phase.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ith defeat looking certain in this round, the BJP has tried to polarize the Hindu voters by raking up the issue of terrorism. In poll meetings on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused his rivals of sheltering terrorists — a charge that has invited bitter response from the Grand Alliance camp. BJP chief Amit Shah has already created a major controversy by his comment that crackers will go off in Pakistan if the BJP loses in Bihar.
Eve though the BJP seems to have done remarkably well in the fourth phase, it will struggle to overcome the odds in the final phase. In the battle between `Mandal’ and `Kamandal’, caste passion is likely to score over the politics of religious divide in the slog over of Bihar polls.
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