If there is one phase of the Bihar elections in which RJD will feel it has little to lose vis-a-vis five years ago and a lot to gain, it is the third and final phase that polls on Saturday. Covering districts with the highest concentration of Muslims in the state and parts in which the Yadavs are a sizeable presence, this is fertile territory for the party’s much-talked about ‘M-Y’ formula.
In the last elections, the alliance with JD(U) and Congress meant RJD had to cede most seats to its allies. As a result, it ended up winning just 20 of the 78 seats, though the alliance won 54 seats, with JD(U) picking up 23 and Congress 11. RJD will hope it can improve on that tally this time round.
What would worry the party though as much as the combined strength of BJP and JD(U) is the presence of two potential spoilers in these parts. One is Jan Adhikar Party (Loktantrik) led by former RJD strongman Pappu Yadav who wields influence in the Purnea belt. The other is the alliance of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM with BSP and RLSP.
While each of these parties by itself may not be much of a factor in Bihar, could their combined strength do enough to damage the Mahagathbandhan’s prospects? Reports from the ground suggest the alliance is not gaining too much traction but even a few thousand votes can be enough to play spoiler. That is why RJD would hope that Congress will be able to carry its weight at least in this phase.
While it may seem obvious that BJP would do worse in Muslim-dominated areas, which is not necessarily true. Even contesting against the combined might of RJD and JD(U) in 2015, the party managed to win four of the 25 seats here with significant Muslim presence, evidently because of a counter-consolidation of non-Muslim votes in its favour. Overall, the party won 20 seats in this part of the state last time. It would hope that the arithmetic advantage of having JD(U) as an ally this time will outweigh any negative effects of anti-incumbency that come with it.
JD(U) too would hope that what it loses out among the Muslims because of its alliance with BJP would be more than offset by adding the saffron party’s votes to its own. That is, of course, provided that the transfer of votes is smooth.
Source :Google News