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Patna, March 5 – All parties have started preparations for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2024. While the big parties have been strategising to strengthen their alliances by bringing smaller parties together, the smaller parties are trying to strengthen themselves by weighing the pros and cons of the alliances.
Considering the current political situation in Bihar, the main contest is being expected between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in the upcoming elections, who are engaged in strengthening their base by associating with small parties.
The BJP seemed to stand alone in the state in 2022, when Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) left the NDA and teamed up with the Grand Alliance, or the Mahagathbandhan.
The saffron party has announced that it will contest by itself against the Grand Alliance of seven parties, but has also been seen keeping a close eye on the smaller parties.
The presence of caste equations in the politics of Bihar cannot be denied, perhaps that explains why small parties that are not led by big leaders become dominant in certain areas.
Former Union Minister late Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has split into two factions. Voters of the Paswan community have been loyal to this party since the beginning.
The faction led by Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan is LJP (RV). Chirag has been considered close to the NDA ever since he took charge of the party, giving reasons to believe that he might be with the BJP in the upcoming elections too.
The resentment among the JD-U members over teaming up with the Grand Alliance is evident. Former Parliamentary Board president Upendra Kushwaha resigned and formed a new party, Rashtriya Lok Janata Dal (RLJD) in February 2023.
Considering his constant attacks on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the party leadership, chances are that he will side with the NDA.
Bharatiya Janata Party state president Sanjay Jaiswal had said that the party would welcome anyone who fought against Lalu Prasad’s government and brought Bihar out of that phase.
A JD-U leader, on condition of anonymity, said that many members of the party are against the decision of teaming up with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and have stated that they do not fit in the RJD system.
He stated that it was apparent by the way RJD leaders comment against the Nitish Kumar government that the friendship will not last long.
Leaders of Mukesh Sahani’s Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), which was earlier an ally of the NDA have not been speaking publicly on the matter but have expressed that the party would contest only with an alliance.
Recently, the Central government provided Y plus category security to Sahani, indicating that the latter had been getting closer to the BJP again.
Sahani is considered to have a stronghold in the Nishad community in several constituencies of Bihar for votes. In the last Assembly elections, the VIP had won four seats.
Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is part of the ruling Grand Alliance, is recognised as a clever leader in Bihar politics. Recently, he had created a controversy by speaking against the Mahagathbandhan.
Describing his son and Bihar minister Santosh Kumar Suman better than other contenders for the chief minister’s post, he had said that Suman is educated and knowledgeable.
Earlier, Nitish Kumar had asked RJD leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav to lead his alliance in the 2025 Assembly elections.
Since the leaders of these small parties have refrained from stating anything clearly, it can be said that the BJP is preparing to gather the small parties and compete with the Grand Alliance.
The saffron party is buoyed by its success in the Assembly elections in the northeastern states. BJP spokesperson Manoj Sharma said that due to the work done by the Central government and faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has no competition.
He added that in Bihar, the people would never want the era of the 90s to return.
Significantly, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, JD-U and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP contested together and won 39 out of 40 seats in Bihar.