Is BJP losing Bihar plot?

Various pre-poll surveys project that Nitish Kumar is holding on in the state despite Narnedra Modiís spirited campaign

GN Bureau | October 9, 2015


#BJP   #Bihar Poll   #pre-poll surveys   #JD-U   #RJD   #surveys  

The contest in Bihar is very close and last minute switch by voters could go either way, for Nitish Kumar or the BJP alliance. Accordingly, the pre-poll surveys go from one end of the spectrum to the other.

While ABP-Nielsen, Lokniti-CSDS-Indian Express and Zee News in their poll surveys showed NDA having the upper hand, the survey conducted by News Nation projected the grand alliance of Nitish as the clear winner. A CNN IBN/IBN7-Axis survey said the grand alliance of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress was expected to win 137 seats. The India TV-CVoter pre-poll survey said the BJP-led NDA could win 119 seats, three short of the magic mark of 122 in the Bihar assembly, and the grand alliance 116.

All the surveys said that development would be the main election issue. Other issues are inflation and "bijli-paani-sadak", ranking second with 13 percent each.

Nitish Kumar is fighting perhaps the biggest battle of his long political career against the toughest of opponents. Nitish Kumar is seen as a performer but his political decisions in the last couple of years may have annoyed many.

The surveys point out that the BJP has also a tough fight on hand, despite prime minister Narendra Modi’s campaign. It may end up with limited success.

Modi may be hugely popular across a cross-section of voters, but his alliance maybe hit due by the absence of a strong match for Nitish. Unlike in Haryana and Jharkhand, the BJP cannot cash in on the incumbents, who were largely discredited.

A smart campaigning techniques borrowed from the BJP by the JD(U) has helped the party to a large extent. The programmes like har ghar dastak may have worked for Nitish and people are more aware of his achievements now.

One of the reasons why NDA may not meet the expectations is because of shifting youth support. According to one survey, while 43 % of young voters were in favour of the BJP during September, this time only 36% support the party.

The BJP knows Bihar won’t be a cakewalk. Almost all its central leaders, including ministers and party president Amit Shah, have been busy in the state for several weeks. Narendra Modi has a number of rallies lined up across the state.

Caste equations play a crucial role in Bihar politics and the opinion poll has once again proved that upper caste voters comprising Brahmin, Rajput or Thakur, Bhumihar and others mostly support the saffron brigade. A total of 70 per cent of Thakurs, 78 per cent of Brahmins and 77 per cent Bhumihars voted for the BJP-led alliance in the survey.

But these are only pre-poll surveys and it's too early to jump to any conclusion.

What surveys are saying
 

Party/Alliance BJP+ JDU+ Others
  Seats Votes Seats Votes Seats Votes
Zee News (Oct) 147 53.80% 64 40.20% 32 6%
Times Now-C Voter (Oct) 117 43% 112 42% 14 15%
ABP-Neilsen (Oct) 128 42% 112 40% 3 18%
India Today – Cicero (Oct) 107-115 39% 117-125 41% 0 20%
CSDS- Indian Express (Oct) - 42% - 38% - 20%
News Nation 111 - 115 42% 125 - 129 45% 2 13%
Poll of polls (Mean of all the seats and vote share of all above polls)
Party/Alliance BJP+ JDU+ Others
  Seats Votes Seats Votes Seats Votes
  118 42.80% 112 42% 13 15.20%

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