October 29, 2015 – Elections are on in full-swing in India’s Eastern state of Bihar, with tens of thousands of voters casting their ballot for their new state government today.
Polling has started for the third phase of elections in Patna, the capital of Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the ruling party in India, has pulled out all stops, it has done a mega election campaign, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing rallies almost every day.
Mr Modi said: “On the one hand, there is development (BJP) while on the other hand, there is opportunism and the filthy game of coalition.”
Pitted against the BJP is the “maha ghatbandhan” or the grand alliance of socialist parties. Leading this grand alliance is the sitting chief minister- the two-term chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. Strangely enough, there is not much of an anti-incumbency factor against Mr Kumar.
Said Mr Kumar: “I am seeking your votes on the basis of my track record of development. The politics of the BJP is different. They make promises and forget those promises after the elections. I have worked for 10 years.”
Winning Bihar is important for the BJP and it is also important for Mr Modi to stem the belief that 2014 was a flash in the pan. Actually at the ground level, people really do not see a “Modi wave” continuing in 2015. For the grand alliance, they see Bihar as a stepping stone for a kind of a mass movement in the country, where they evicted the BJP from one state after the other.
So Bihar is a test case for both the alliances, for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance as well as this newly-formed maha ghatbandhan.