Vote-splitters of Bihar: Meet the 5 politicians whose entry may help BJP against the RJD-JD(U) combine

Ever Narendra Modi had addressed four rallies in Bihar, turning it into a personal battle for prestige. Modi took on chief minister Nitish Kumar, mocking his DNA and making it clear that he and he alone is leading the fight against the grand alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] and Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not announced a chief ministerial candidate yet. There is just one focal point of leadership and that is Modi. Then, it is quite natural that all the twists and turns on the battlefront get attributed to the prime mover.

So, when something as strange as five spoilers emerge on the electoral horizon of Bihar, that too gets credited to Modi’s genius. Whether it is so or not, all the five spoilers are expected to help the BJP against the RJD-JD(U) combine.

Bihar has a special term for poll spoilers, vote-katua or vote-splitters.

These are candidates put up just to ensure the split of a particular community’s votes. In a caste-ridden society, this is an old trick employed to lure away voters from the community of the candidate expected to win. So, in a Yadav-dominated region, if a party or leader can split a chunk of Yadav votes then the biggest Yadav party, that is the RJD, can get hit badly.

Divide and Rule

On August 13, Modi met Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, who was earlier expelled from the RJD, leading to speculation that Pappu will put up candidates in the Kosi belt to get RJD candidates defeated. Pappu is a five-time Parliamentarian and a local strongman or bahubali who can tilt votes in at least two Parliamentary constituencies: his own Madhepura and his wife Ranjeet Ranjan’s Supaul.

Pappu’s Yuva Shakti has considerable influence among young Yadav voters in the Kosi belt. Yadavs are unlikely to vote for the BJP, but it could be a great boost for the BJP if they vote against RJD in favour of candidates put up by Pappu. Once accused and prosecuted for murdering Ajit Sarkar, a Marxist MP, the Union home ministry offered Pappu Y-category security cover in July. The BJP seems to have carefully chosen Pappu as a vote-splitter because he is a Yadav leader in his own right and has won elections fighting on RJD, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) seats and even as an independent candidate.

The All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the old political outfit of the Nizam of Hyderabad that till recently was content to be known as just MIM, is now spreading its sphere of influence far away from the Walled City of Hyderabad into Muslim ghettoes elsewhere.

It won two assembly seats in Maharashtra and is now venturing into the Seemanchal region of Bihar. Lalu Yadav had consistently won polls with his Yadav-Muslim social coalition. If Muslims votes can be split by a radical Muslim outfit, it could hurt RJD the most and then JD(U) and Congress because these are the mainstream parties that used to represent Muslim voters so far.

Union minister for commerce Nirmala Seetharaman openly admitted that the entry of AIMIM in Bihar is good and that it would help the BJP. In fact, AIMIM could act as a doubleedged sword helping to split the grand alliance’s votes and also to consolidate Hindu votes against the radical Muslim party.

Tariq Anwar, one of the founders of NCP, is merely following in his leader’s footsteps. Sharad Pawar had ditched Congress and ensured a four-cornered fight in Maharashtra that helped the BJP emerge as the single-largest party.

In a caste-ridden society, vote-splitters are employed to lure away voters from the community of the candidate

Though NCP is only a one-MP wonder in Bihar, he could help cut a few Muslim votes in Seemanchal. Anwar is a veteran five-term MP, a former political secretary to the Congress president when Sitaram Kesri headed the party and a heavyweight. NCP could have agreed to contest the three assembly seats that the grand alliance offered, but instead it chose to split votes.

Indirect Help

Mulayam Singh Yadav, the grand wrestler of Hindi heartland politics, is a relatively weak player in Bihar, yet his presence can offer rebels an opportunity to test the waters and split some votes.

The Yadav voters of Bihar have always faithfully rallied around Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam could never play even a bit role in the Bihar political theatre.

So, his Yadav credentials are not going to help him in the hustings. But a party like SP can offer influential local aspirants a platform and even resources to contest and win a few votes if not a seat. And these candidates too would be targeting the same M-Y social base, again helping the BJP indirectly.

Another five-term MP who is doing his bit to hit at the grand alliance is Devendra Prasad Yadav. He had represented Jhanjharpur for so long that he can legitimately hope to split votes and defeat the RJD or JDU candidate in the assembly segments within his old constituency.

DP, as he is better known, had hopped several parties and had expected to wrangle a seat for his son, failing which he has joined hands with Mulayam Singh to turn a vote-splitter.

Courtesy:The Economic Times