10 data points that will determine the outcome of the Bihar election

Amitabh Tiwari
·6-min read

All major political parties have released their manifestos for Bihar elections. The Phase 1 of the Bihar elections are on, and all top leaders from various parties, including Prime Minister Modi, have already campaigned hard in the state to woo voters.

While all opinion polls predict an NDA victory, ground reports suggest Tejashwi Yadav is gaining traction and the Mahagathbandhan (MBG) could emerge as a surprise winner.

In this article we will analyse 10 key data points which will have a bearing on the election results in the state.

1. Turnout

This is the first election being held post coronavirus hit India. Although recovery rates have been increasing and India has passed its first peak as claimed by the health ministry, the threat still looms large.

The virus is still out there affecting thousands on a daily basis. It is expected to accelerate during the festive and election season. 3 Bihar BJP leaders have turned corona positive recently.

All this means that despite the Election Commission taking precautions, people might be afraid to come out and vote in large numbers. This could result in lower turnout.

As a thumb rule low turnout is good for the incumbent. The table shows how governments in five states emerged victorious after a low turnout.

2. Strike rate of JDU and INC

In both the camps, JDU and Congress have emerged as the weak links. The BJP needs JDU, and RJD needs INC to have a strike rate of at least 45-40% to sail through as shown in table below. Any lacklustre performance by these parties can be suicidal for NDA and MGB.

In the last three elections, JDU has achieved a strike rate of 72%, while Congress a meagre 12%.

Note: 122 is the majority mark in Bihar assembly.

3. SC seats

Bihar has 38 seats reserved for the Scheduled Caste category, that is 16% of house strength. In the last three elections, whichever group has won maximum seats has gone on to form government in the state.

The entry of Bhim Army, BSP’s alliance with Kushwaha’s RLSP and LJP’s decision of contesting alone has made the contests on these seats multi-cornered.

SCs, which include Dalits and, Mahadalits voted in large numbers for the NDA in Lok Sabha elections. It remains to be seen whether it is able to retain the support in Paswan’s absence and in the aftermath of Hathras incident.

Source: www.politicalbaaba.com, www.indiavotes.com

4. Muslim influence seats

There are 78 seats (1/3rd) which are influenced by the minority community. On these seats the population is greater than 17%, the state average.

This has been the forte of Lalu’s RJD, however, in 2005 and 2010, NDA won majority of these seats due to polarization and the fact that Nitish enjoyed goodwill among the community (for not letting Modi campaign in the state).

In 2015 Lalu’s alliance with JDU made MGB sweep 70% of these seats.With Nitish joining shoulders with Modi, JDU has lost Muslim votes. In 2020, polarization versus Muslim-Yadav voting pattern could decide the fate of these seats.

Source: www.politicalbaaba.com, www.indiavotes.com

5. Mahadalit influence seats

There are 40 seats where the Mahadalit population is greater than 10%, their average state population. Out of these 9 are overlapping with Muslim influence seats. Manjhi’s return to NDA could bolster NDA prospects in these seats.

Source: www.politicalbaaba.com, www.indiavotes.com

These seats have moved from dominance of RJD in 2000 to NDA in 2005 and 2010. In 2015 RJD again won maximum of these seats thanks to alliance with Nitish. In 2020 how these votes will be watched keenly.

6. Which way MBC & NYOBCs vote

MBC is a category created by Nitish to wean away most backward of the OBC lot votes. NYOBC includes Kurmi and Koeri / Kushwaha community voters.

Both of these account for 36% of the state population. These have traditionally backed the NDA. This is an important vote block especially the MBCs and includes scores of sub caste groups.

With VIP in NDA’s kitty, RLSP contesting separately, and murmur within the community of under representation in ticket distribution as well as power may help Tejashwi woo a section of voters back.

The extent of this support would play a key role in determining who wins. Along with upper caste MBCs are in majority in 100 odd seats of the state.

Source: www.politicalbaaba.com, Post poll reports of CSD/AxisMyIndia

7. Female turnout and inclination

Women turnout in the state was higher by 5% in 2015. The number of voters has increased to 7.18 crore compared to 7.06 crore during general elections.

Both Nitish and Modi are popular among women voters due to various specific schemes. With many migrant workers returning, 30-35 lakh estimate, it will be interesting to see if women maintain the lead as it could impact NDA fortunes.

8. 15 years of Lalu versus 15 years of Nitish (Economy)

Nitish has made this contest a comparison of 15 years of his rule versus 15 year tenor of the Lalu family. While the state has recorded good development under Nitish, delivering 1.5 times GDP growth rate.

Per capita income of Bihar became 2.57 times during Lalu’s tenure. It was a tad lower at 2.29 times during Kumar’s 15 year tenure. With unemployment at record high, people have started questioning the efficacy and percolation of the Bihar model.

9. 15 years of Lalu versus 15 years of Nitish (Law & Order)

Nitish has earned the sushasan babu tag due to his good track record on the law and order front.

A glance of crime statistics of Bihar on the state police website shows that while incidence of crime has declined in six categories it has increased in equal number of six categories.

10. Performance of vote-katwas

Smaller parties and independents have a history of good performance in the state elections bagging anywhere between 20%-25% vote share.

With LJP contesting separately, Kushwaha leading a front (GDSF) as well as Pappu Yadav, others could make or mar the prospects of both alliances.

They are projected to get 30% vote share as per Lokniti-CSDS survey. NDA currently enjoys a 6% lead. They are damaging both alliances in different seats.

To sum up, an interesting election on the cards in Bihar, testing the skills of pundits and pollsters. As per Crowdwisdom360, opinion polls indicate NDA trending around 125 and MGB around 85, with others at 30.

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