Opinion Polls show NDA gaining ground, but Nitish Kumar – People’s First Choice for CM
The latest Opinion Poll results announced by Times Now-C Voter throw up some interesting trends. The NDA that has been the underdog going into this poll but is now seen to be gaining ground on the Grand Alliance and even surging slightly ahead.
In the Opinion Poll held on 8 Sept, NDA was expected to win 102 seats as against 124 by the Grand Alliance. In the poll taken on 23 Sept, the NDA had improved its forecasted tally to 117 seats, representing 43% vote share, while the Grand Alliance was down to 112 seats, representing a 42% vote share.
The seats for ‘Others’ were also down from 17 to 14, representing a 15% vote share. Going by the Opinion Polls, the results show the BJP’s all-caste inclusive seat sharing formula seems to have gone down well with the voters, but if that were strictly true, then the Grand Alliance’s seat sharing formula, which was equally inclusive, should not be coming down. Surely, there are other factors in play and the narrow gap between the two could change either ways as the days go by.
In another interesting but not surprising result, Nitish Kumar continues to be people’s first choice for CM. This brings out the polarity between the choice for a CM and choice for overall governance.
NDA’s Likely Choice for Chief Minister
With NDA, and BJP in particular, seeing a real chance of coming to power in Bihar, the big question is – who will become the next Chief Minister? The possible choices are as follows:
Sushil Kumar Modi, BJP
He is a frontrunner in the race for the CM’s post and is also the best placed to get the nod. SK Modi has been a part of Bihar politics for a long time. It was way back in 1962 that he was drawn to RSS ideology and joined the organization to contribute towards civil defence activities during the 1962 Indo-China war. He remained an active worker of RSS working at various grass root levels. In 1990, he joined politics as a member of BJP.
What gives him the edge for the CM’s post is that he has served as Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister for almost eight years, from 24 November 2005 to 16 June 2013, and has had a good record as an administrator while being well-versed with the financial and economic situation in Bihar. Furthermore, he has a clean and non-controversial reputation and is seen as an amiable figure who gets along with most party members and those of other parties as well. He seems to be in the best position to make the cut for the CM’s post.
Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP
Old party loyalist and a Muslim, makes Shahnawaz Hussain a serious candidate for the CM’s post. Although the recent Times Now-C Voter Opinion poll shows him slightly behind Jitan Manjhi, his appointment as CM could certainly be a coup for the BJP, who in one stroke could establish its image as an inclusive party giving fair opportunity to minorities, while taking on Mulayam Singh as the biggest champion of Muslims, with an eye on forthcoming elections in U.P.
Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP
Ram Vilas Paswan is a seasoned politician having had good exposure to administration in the Central government, having held portfolios of Railways, Communications and Information & Technology, Chemicals & Fertilizers, Mines, and is currently holding the Consumer Affairs, Food and Distribution portfolio in the Narendra Modi government.
Ram Vilas Paswan is a popular Dalit leader and has good understanding of Bihar politics, while having wide administrative experience at the centre. His biggest drawback has been that he is perceived to be without much ideology and someone who has shifted party allegiance based on political exigency and personal gain. Although he doesn’t command the political influence that he once had, he still remains relevant and is seen by BJP as being more influential amongst the Dalit – Mahadalit categories than Jitan Ram Manjhi.
This was confirmed when LJP was given 40 seats against 20 to Jitan Manjhi’s HAM. Ram Vilas Paswan is unlikely to beat Sushil Kumar Modi as the first choice, if BJP performs as expected. If they fall short and require a Dalit candidate to shore up support, then Ram Vilas Paswan may just get the nod over Jitan Manjhi.
Jitan Ram Manjhi, HAM
Although a Dalit, Jitan Manjhi has been on the fringes of politics in Bihar and only came to the forefront when he was chosen by Nitish Kumar as a front man to serve on his behalf as the Chief Minister of Bihar. His moment in the limelight was short-lived and was soon left out in the cold by JD(U). While he was the CM, he did not come across as an able administrator and was unpopular amongst several party members. He also ran into one controversy after the other with irresponsible public statements that saw his stature diminish.
Considerably weakened, he formed HAM and joined the NDA camp, offering to bring Dalit votes on the table. However, the seat distribution reflects his standing within the NDA fold and he will be an unlikely choice for the CM’s post.
Upendra Kushwaha, RLSP
Upendra Kushwaha joined politics in 1985 as the General Secretary of Yuva Lok Dal. He later became its National General Secretary before joining Samata Party. Thereafter, he has been active in Bihar politics. His strength is that he represents the Kushwaha community votes but lacks wider acceptance and appeal amongst other political stakeholders. He also doesn’t have any major administrative experience that is crucial to navigate the political waters of Bihar. He is the least likely candidate to be chosen for the CM’s post.
Politician in Focus: Shatrughan Prasad Sinha, BJP (Born 15 July, 1946)
Shatrughan Sinha is the sitting MP from Patna Sahib Constituency in the 16th Lok Sabha. Few people would know that the popular film star Shatrughan Sinha was an activist during his days in Patna University. He subsequently studied film acting at FTII, Pune and then made his entry into the film industry. Having acted in over 225 films, Shatrughan Sinha joined politics and has been a member of BJP ever since. He has served as the Union Cabinet Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Union Minister of Shipping and is now a part of the current star line-up of BJP for campaigning in Bihar.
Constituency in Focus: Jamui
Jamui is a municipality located along the Bihar-Jharkhand border is the headquarters of Jamui district. It was carved out of Munger on 21 February 1991 and is spread over an area of 3,122.80 sq. km. As per Census 2011, the population of Jamui district is 17, 60,405 of which 916,064 are males and 844,341 are females.
2010 Assembly Election Results
- Winner in 2010 Assembly Poll: Ajay Pratap, JD(U)
- Margin of win: 24,467 votes; 20.09% of total valid votes
- Runner-up: Vijay Prakash, RJD
- Male voters: 65,481; Female voters: 56,302; Total: 121,784
- Polling %: 53.50
- Male Candidates who contested: 10; Female Candidates: 1
- Polling stations: 253
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