What role can Muslim community play in Bihar elections?

Bihar: The Bihar elections are barely three months away from now. Although, the state is reeling under a pandemic, there is every possibility that elections will be held on time. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in strong position due to many reasons.

Muslims’ votes have a great role in building and bringing down governments. The Muslim population in Bihar is twenty percent, which helped Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar to come to power with a huge majority.

Pandemic created problem for Nitish Kumar

There was a time when media used to appreciate Nitish Kumar; when he invited the media to show the developments he made in the health sector, especially the Primary Health Centres in Bihar.

Now, the same media is exposing the poor health conditions and the Bihar’s ailing economy. The situation has turned into a serious concern for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Biharis are experiencing awful situations due to lack of health facilities in hospitals. The government was not ready to combat with Covid-19. Moreover, the lockdown has made the matter worse in making the economy sluggish. It seems that Nitish Kumar is in troubled waters now.

Due to inadequate number of hospitals and poor health care services across the state, Covid-19 cases are escalating unbelievably. Covid-19 testing facilities are very low. Bihar has tested only half a million people until now, while its population is the second largest in India with more than 123 million people.

On the contrary, other states in India on have tested a minimum of 1.69 million; Tamilnadu has tested 2.41 million and Uttar Pradesh 1.83 million, and Andhra Pradesh 1.69 million.

Even in this worst situation, the political parties which include the JDU and BJP are busy in electioneering campaigns. BJP has already had several online rallies. JDU has ignored the current deteriorated conditions of hospitals and is going to follow their suit. The government hospitals in Bihar are presenting terrible scenes. Despite of their utter failure in controlling the pandemic, the BJP and JDU both are pretty sure about winning the assembly elections.

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It seems they are pretty sure about their success in the upcoming assembly election, while Mahagathbandhan opposition party – alliance of RJD and the Congress is puzzled whether the Muslim community will vote JDU and BJP alliance.

What the Muslim community will do?

As Lalu Prasad Yadav is in jail for 14 years, most of the Muslims are doubtful about the winning chances of Mahagathbandhan as Lalu Prasad’s sons are incapable of running the party efficiently.

RJD and JDU had fought together in the last assembly elections. RJD got the largest number of seats in the assembly election but allowed Nitish Kumar to become the Chief Minister. However, after two years, Nitish Kumar abandoned the grand alliance and went to BJP.

Muslims have some other concerns too, like the RJD is not giving the Muslim community sufficient number of seats in assembly and Parliamentary elections. However, this seems to be a false allegation. Even in the absence of Lalu Yadav, Muslims have been given due representation at all levels.

The percentage of Muslim community in Bihar is 17 percent and RJD gave 16 tickets to them out of 101 seats, and congress gave 10 tickets to Muslims out of 41 seats. This will come to 25 percent of the total candidates of Mahagathbandhan. Sify has reported.

JDU, which was an alliance partner of Mahagathbandhan gave the least number of seats to the Muslim community. It contested on 101 seats, but gave tickets to only seven Muslims.

Soroor Ahmed, a Patna based political analyst says that RJD is giving more representation to the Muslim community, sometimes it is much more than their proportion in the state population. “In the last Lok Sabha polls RJD gave tickets to five Muslims when as a Grand Alliance partner it contested only 19 out of 40 seats in Bihar. Thus Muslims got 27 per cent representation, that is, more than 10 per cent of their population in the state” he says.

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Soroor Ahmed further adds that the misinformation with regards to the representation of Muslims or backward Muslim is usually spread by media and some community leaders to confuse the common Muslims.

What can Owaisi do?

Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM party made a grand announcement, merely a few days after the virtual rally of the BJP, of fielding as many as 32 candidates in the forthcoming assembly elections.

AIMIM, has won only one seat in a by-election. It doesn’t have the required organizational structure to impact the chances of Mahagathbandhan. It may get about get a few hundred votes in constituencies where it fights elections. This may impact the chances of the RJD/ Congress in a few seats. AMIM cannot destroy their chances even in the Muslim majority seats of North Bihar, where the Hyderabad based party seems to be concentrating its efforts. It may also face difficulty in getting candidates for constituencies as it has no organizational structure at grassroots level.

Saroor Ahmed is of the opinion that “This is simply because outside the Muslim-dominated Kishanganj district of Bihar, AIMIM is considered by Muslims in general as the B-team of the BJP. Their first option across the state would certainly be the RJD-Congress led alliance. However, in case of any compulsion they would instead of opting for AIMIM throw their lot behind NDA candidates, preferably of Janata Dal United or Lok Janshakti Party. So barring a few youths the community in general would not waste their votes by exercising their franchise in favour of Owaisi’s outfit”. Sify has reported.

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