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Contours of Alliance Politics in Bihar

The Making of a Masked Mandate

The discourse around the forthcoming Bihar assembly elections of 2020 is rife with the usual rhetoric of development brandished by the ruling alliance, while the opposition stresses the underdevelopment of the state. This election is also driven by caste calculations. But the distinctive factor is that of the migrant workers which could prove to be a game changer.

Elections in India are contested more on the basis of different calculations rather than from convictions. These calculations involve caste arithmetic, ethnicity and religion rather than ideology. In addition to these factors, the promotion of the image of the leaders has also been added in the case of the Bihar assembly elections of 2020. It would be important to look at the configuration and reconfiguration of the ­alliance politics that is taking shape in the context of these elections. Again, these elections are taking place in the background of the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic—it is obvious—is going to affect the outcome of the elections since the voters are expected to cast their preference keeping in view the performance of the incumbent government in terms of handling the crisis created by the pandemic and the perennial crises of underdevelopment, poverty, hunger and unemployment. What are the influential factors that the leadership has to handle to win and form the government?

There are several questions that come up: How are the political parties that are contesting the elections perceiving these issues that are so crucial for mobilising the voters? Will the instability in the two major alliances have any bearing on the electoral choice of the voters? The reconfiguration of political alliances among parties is likely to find it difficult to overuse the old issues such as “jungle raj.” The limits of the state’s power have been exposed by the return migration of workers originally hailing from Bihar. Will the voters make their decision based on the existential issues, such as job opportunity at home, educational facilities and health infrastructure, or will the calculation of caste prove to be decisive for the outcome of the ­assembly elections?

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Updated On : 28th Oct, 2020

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