The Bharatiya Janata Party- Janata Dal (United) alliance is all set to come back to power in Bihar, an opinion poll by CVoter has predicted. However, the survey also says that there is widespread resentment against the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in the state.
The election commission announced the dates for the Bihar Assembly polls on Friday 25 September. The polling will take place in three phases: 28 October, 3 November and 7 November and the results will be declared on 10 November.
Here are some of the key predictions made in the CVoter survey, that was conducted over the last seven days among 2100 respondents, spread over all the Assembly constituencies in Bihar.
NDA Could Win 141-161 Seats
According to the survey, the NDA could win somewhere in the range of 141 to 161 seats in the 243 member Assembly, with the RJD-Congress alliance lagging behind at 64-84 seats. The upper limit of the prediction would put the NDA just short of a two-thirds majority. Smaller parties could win 13 to 23 seats.
The survey also gave the regional break-up of the seat projections.
Vote Share: NDA Has a 11 Percentage Point Lead Over UPA
According to the CVoter survey, NDA could get a projected vote share of 44.8 percent, 11.4 percentage points above the UPA at 33..4 percent. Others could get 21.8 percent.
Nitish Kumar Hugely Unpopular, 56 Percent Want Him Out
Perhaps for the first time since he became chief minister 15 years ago, Nitish Kumar is facing a massive anti-incumbency.
As many as 56.7 percent people surveyed said that they are angry with him and wanted his government to go.
- 29.8 percent said that they are angry but don’t want to change the government. So this means that a massive 86 percent people are dissatisfied with his performance.
- On the other hand only 13.5 percent people said they are not angry and don’t want to change the government.
- Similarly 45.3 percent respondents rated the performance of the Nitish Kumar government as “poor”, 27.6 percent rated it as “good” and 27.2 percent termed it “average”.
- However, Nitish still ranks above his main competitor Tejashwi Yadav as far as being CM choice is concerned. 30.3 percent respondents picked the incumbent as their CM choice with Tejashwi behind at 15.4 percent.
Jobs is the Biggest Issue, Sushant’s Death Nowhere in the Picture
According to the survey, the biggest election issue is “unemployment and the return of migrant workers”, with 25 percent respondents picking this as what matters most to them.
This is followed by corruption at 19.3 percent, road, water and electricity combined at 13.3 percent and the state of healthcare and availability of medicines at 12.9 percent.
But the issue that got the most media coverage - the death of Sushant Singh Rajput who hailed from Bihar - is nowhere in the picture.
What Do These Findings Mean?
- The predictions by CVoter appear to be in line with the results in the Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra last year, in which the BJP lost ground considerably since the Lok Sabha elections but the Opposition didn’t gain enough to defeat the former. One must keep in mind that the turnaround in Maharashtra happened post-poll, with BJP’s pre-poll ally Shiv Sena leaving the NDA.
- Even the unpopularity of the incumbent is similar to the case of Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana before the Assembly polls.
- If the CVoter survey is any indication, then the NDA’s projected vote share seems to be falling by at least eight percentage points compared to the Lok Sabha elections and that of the UPA is increasing by about three points. And in terms of seats, NDA had led in as many as 223 out of 243 Assembly segments in Bihar in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. This appears to be falling by at least 62 seats, if not more.
- It appears clear that the Nitish Kumar government is unpopular but it is still ahead due to the Opposition, particularly RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s inability to give a challenge.
- NDA also seems to be benefitting from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still relatively popular with 48.8 percent rating his performance as “good” as opposed to 29.2 percent who said “poor” and 21.3 percent who rated it as “average”. It appears that a sizable section of voters is backing JD(U) because of its alliance with BJP.
- One caveat here, the alliance arithmetic is still in a flux. The BJP and JD(U) are yet to finalise their seat sharing among themselves as well as with Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP. Similarly Upendra Kushwaha, who was a UPA ally, has threatened to break away and the CPI(ML) has decided to go solo. If LJP puts up candidates against the JD(U), then it could seriously harm the NDA’s fortunes. But if the LJP is on board, caste arithmetic will work in NDA’s favour.
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