A three phase election is about to commence for the a new Legislative Assembly of Bihar on three days, with the first day of polling being on 28th of October, 2020 for 71 seats, the second day being 3rd of November 2020 for 94 and on the 7th of November, 2020 for 78 seats, adding up to 243 seats. The results are expected to be announced on the 10th of November 2020.
Bihar is a state with one of the best “human capital” in India and other resources too. But the people of Bihar do not get sufficient opportunities in their own state and are forced to migrate to far away states for employment as labourers or office workers. Minimum Support Prices were abolished in Bihar several years ago – and nearly always the produce of farmers in Bihar is transported to other states to get better prices. Neither peasants nor other workers are able to improve their standard of living over the decades, while the rich in Bihar and elsewhere get richer thanks to the cheap labour of the Bihari people.
The main contest appears to be between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is a coalition led by Mr. Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as an important constituent along with some smaller parties, on the one hand, and the Mahagathbandhan or the Grand Coalition on the other comprising of members of the United Progressive Alliance including the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Indian National Congress as well as some left parties.
It may be recalled here that in the 2015 election, the incumbent Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar himself had been with the Mahagathbandhan, but switched later to the NDA. He has earlier been efficient in running affairs in Bihar to the satisfaction of the powers that be, but of late they are not as happy as they once were with him. Thus, there may be an “anti-incumbency” factor that may work against him.
There are those who say that the most important thing about this election would be to prevent any alliance that includes the BJP from coming back to power, because the BJP purportedly is fascistic and communal. But it is not as if the RJD or the Congress Party have a good track record in ensuring justice and progress for the working people. A study on the ground shows that virtually all the parties in the fray are guilty of one or another crime against the people and are all known to be criminal and corrupt. Thus, it appears that no matter what the outcome, the people of Bihar will see a continuation of the circumstances that have plagued the people for decades, keeping them among the poorest in the country.
A serious look at the phenomena of Indian politics and elections reveal that what takes places every five years is nothing but an electoral circus. There is a revolving door out of which some parties and persons exit, and others enter to run the affairs of either the country or the states to the benefit of a miniscule propertied section of the country. In the instance of Bihar, it is a fact that the policies executed by successive governments have not solved any of the problems the people of Bihar face such as unemployment and lack of security, shelter, food and education.
More recently, when the pandemic broke out earlier in the year, the country witnessed the spectacle of tens of thousands of Bihari labourers who were working across the length and breadth of the country streaming back home, often without transport and food. Their plight and condition would have brought tears to everyone’s eyes and pricked the conscience of the people of the country.
The present election will not solve any of the problems mentioned above. But rather it is clear from all the discussions that it is just jockeying amongst the members of the parties who vie for precious party tickets to run for elections and for an opportunity to join the government and loot the people. There are only backroom deals that will eventually determine the government formation and the allocation of cabinet portfolios. What is even clearer is the complete disempowering of the people in running their own affairs.
In other words, more things change, the more they remain the same to quote a cliché.
The Bihar election offers an opportunity for the people of India who are interested in a future for the country to come together and question the existing political and economic system. By putting their heads together and carrying out an honest analysis, they can put forward the roadmap for the liberation of the people of India who are suffering on an unprecedented scale. Let us take this opportunity to figure out what is what and work out a strategy. Let us call the bluff of the ruling circles who perpetuate this system and claim that there is no alternative.