243. It is the total number of seats in Bihar Assembly and though the elections for these seats are yet to declared, it is certain that the bugle will be sounded shortly. Also certain are various other things this time in Bihar, like Congress coming out of ICU, people voting in large numbers and youth participating with a new hope. New equations are being formed in the run up to the polls and battle-lines being drawn. Some say it will be a three-cornered contest. Others say it would be four-cornered.
Nitish Kumar is the Chief Minister there and his party Janata Dal (United) has an alliance with the Bhartiya Janta Party with which Kumar maintains a good rapport. There are several ‘top’ leaders in Bihar. All major political parties also have their presence in the state. Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Ramvilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, Rahul Gandhi’s Congress, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Paty, Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party and Prakash Karat-A.B. Bardhan’s brand of Communism are well known to all there.
As said, poll calendar has not been unveiled. Maybe the elections will be held in October! Or November. But the people of Bihar are witnessing new poll equations everyday, in their colonies, on the streets, at the tea stalls. And why not when even the small-time politicians are moving around in Delhi in whites, carrying Bihar maps.
Yes, it is in Delhi that the Bihar elections are being discussed, debated. People can be seen giving themselves ‘clean chits’ before their high commands. The 243 seats are being demanded and distributed in Delhi. Announcements related to seat adjustments are also being made in Delhi, only. Leaders can be seen dreaming around all over the national capital. “I am going to be the Bihar Chief Minister,” claimed Lalu the other day. Could Ramvilas be then kept quiet? “My brother will be the Deputy CM,” he also pushed himself.
Both Lalu and Ramvilas are Members of Parliament but they can be seen breathing Bihar in and out, all day in the run up to the elections. I asked one of Lalu cadres, “Why your leader is always in Delhi?” To this, he replied in frustration: “Sab satyanaash kar rahey hain. (He is ruining the party.)” But Lalu claims his ‘Rashtriya Janata Dal’ is ‘Reformed Janata Dal’, now.
I am told that one night, Lalu and Ramvilas had dinner together at a bungalow near India Gate and the very next morning, they distributed seats between them. “Rashtriya Janata Dal will contest 168 out of total 243 seats in Bihar. Rest 75 seats have been given to Lok Janshakti Party,” announced Lalu at a press conference, in Delhi.
Bihar Assembly term is expiring on November 27. Till then, such alliances will be formed, shaped and re-shaped. BJP stalwart L.K.Advani’s Prithiviraj Road House may also witness several brainstorming sessions. Mulayan and Maya would be appointing observers for the state. Rahul will be addressing youth. 10 Janpath will be finalizing seats. Karat and Bardhan will be issuing statements from their Red Forts.
Meanwhile, a common voter in Bihar is wondering why everything is being done from 1000 kilometers away. But then they can rest assured that the elections will at least be held in Bihar only, and not in Delhi.