No ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ in Bihar, yet

The coming Assembly elections in Bihar are a different ball game with neither chief minister Nitish Kumar the “hero” nor RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav the “villain”.
Political leaders cutting across party lines are assessing the ground level situation in the state ahead of the electoral battle and feel that the political scenario would become clear by mid-August.

According to them, the Bhoomihar, Brahmin and Rajput communities are distancing themselves from the ruling Janata Dal (U)-BJP combine but that does not mean that they will move closer to the RJD-LJP front. In the last Assembly elections, they had mobilised non-Yadavs and Most Backward Communities (MBCs) and taken them to the polling booths against the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led party.
In fact, that election was fought between Lalu Yadav versus the rest. But this election, Mr Nitish Kumar wants to fight on the basis of his government’s performance and consolidation of MBCs. He is also confident that Muslims would back his party after he took on chief minister Narendra Modi and returned the Kosi relief fund to Gujarat.
According to Mandalite leaders from the state, the JD(U) is not cohesive while its workers are uncomfortable with the BJP. The tension between the ruling partners would influence during the election campaigning.
On the other hand, Mr Lalu Yadav and Mr Ram Vilas Paswan are still a force to reckon with.
Moreover, their support base among the minorities has not eroded completely, they said.
The early trends coming from the state indicate that the upper caste is unhappy with Mr Nitish Kumar and thus unlikely to back him through the BJP. It can switch to the Congress but the latter continues to be weak organisationally and leaderless.
“The Sonia Gandhi-led party can emerge as a kingmaker after the elections if it wins over 30 seats. It had made a Muslim the chief minister (Abdul Gafoor) but the JD(U) and the RJD had not, despite getting votes from Muslims,” they pointed out.
Meanwhile, Mr Nitish Kumar on Thursday blamed the Congress for the plight of the minority community of the country, alleging that the mindset of the Congress towards Muslims has not changed.

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