Chirag Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and its complicated relationship with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has emerged as one of the biggest X-factors in the ongoing Bihar Assembly elections.
Paswan has been attacking NDA's CM candidate Nitish Kumar throughout the campaign and has fielded candidates against the alliance constituents Janata Dal (United), Hindustan Awam Morcha and Vikassheel Insan Parishad, while supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party in all the seats it is contesting, except a handful.
This has raised given rise to accusations that the LJP and BJP have a secret understanding.
If the latest survey by CVoter is to be believed, a majority of Bihar's voters also believe these accusations.
‘Are LJP & BJP Hand-in-Glove?’: 61% Say Yes
In the survey people were asked "Do you think that LJP & BJP are actually working hand in glove with each other?". As many as 61 percent of the respondents across the state replied "Yes" - that is they believe that the two parties are hand-in-glove.
On the other hand, 39 percent respondents replied in the negative.
This seems to be the dominant belief across Bihar and there wasn't much regional variation in the data.
The proportion of respondents replying yes to the question of such a deal ranged from 58.4 percent in North Bihar to 63 percent in East Bihar.
This is not surprising. The Quint had earlier reported that several BJP leaders were contesting on BJP tickets in the upcoming polls and that in a number of constituencies, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh cadres were campaigning for Chirag Paswan’s party.
‘57.7% Say LJP Has Created Confusion Among Voters’
A majority of respondents also said that the stand taken by Chirag Paswan has created confusion among voters.
The question asked was: "While Chirag Paswan has decided to go solo in Bihar elections, on the other hand he is praising PM Modi & talking about forming alliance with BJP post elections. Do you think that there is confusion among the voters?"
To this, 57.7 percent respondents said "yes" and 42.3 percent said no.
‘59.3% Say LJP Could Harm NDA’
According to the survey 59.3 percent people feel that the LJP leaving going solo could harm the NDA, as opposed to 40.7 percent who said it won't.
This is comparatively high in the Magadh Bhojpur region, where LJP is relatively more influential. Here 64.1 percent people said that it will harm the NDA. In Seemanchal, 66.2 percent said that LJP's exit will harm NDA.
42.7% Say LJP-BJP is the Real NDA
The people surveyed were asked another interesting question - who is the real NDA? This is important as Chirag Paswan has called for an NDA government led by BJP instead of a Nitish Kumar led NDA government.
To this 57.3 percent said that the BJP-JD(U) alliance is the real NDA while 42.7 percent said that BJP-LJP are the real NDA.
Even though a majority still believes that the official NDA - BJP-JD(U) is the real NDA, 42.7 isn't a small amount. It is surprising that despite BJP leaders' repeated clarifications and PM Narendra Modi campaigning with Nitish Kumar, over 40 percent voters still feel that BJP-LJP is the real NDA.
The fact that Modi hasn’t attacked LJP as yet, hasn’t helped matters nor did the fact that no top leaders campaigned against a BJP rebel like Rajendra Singh who is contesting on an LJP ticket from Dinara.
There are important regional variations to this. In the Magadh-Bhojpur region, 45.2 percent respondents said that LJP-BJP is the real NDA as opposed to 54.8 percent who said it is BJP-JD(U). The LJP is comparatively more influential in the Magadh Bhojpur region and has fieleded a few BJP rebels on its ticket.
On the other extreme is East Bihar where 61.6 percent said that BJP-JD(U) alliance is the real NDA and 39.4 percent saying it's LJP-BJP.
All the other regions - Mithilanchal, Seemanchal and North Bihar - are broadly in the 57:43 ratio, similar to the overall figure.
53.3% Say LJP Could Join Hands With RJD
In the survey, CVoter also asked respondents whether they think the LJP could join hands with the RJD after the polls. 53.3 percent said they could, 46.7 percent said they couldn't.
This is interesting as while Chirag Paswan has been praising PM Narendra Modi, he also hasn’t come out openly against Tejashwi Yadav either. On the ground some voters do think that Tejashwi and Chirag are united in their opposition to Nitish Kumar.
The highest proportion of those who said that LJP and RJD could join hands was 63 percent in East Bihar.
This is the same region where the largest proportion of people said that JD(U)-BJP is the real NDA. The two answers go together - the region which believes most firmly that BJP-JD(U) is the real NDA also believes most strongly that LJP could shift to the RJD. Therefore, the LJP's credentials as an NDA party are the weakest in this region.
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