The Chirag-Tejashwi combine
With around 58% of Bihar’s population between the age of 16 and 40 years, there is a lot of focus on the youth vote. This is one reason why RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav makes it a point to bring up Nitish Kumar’s age at every rally and ask about his retirement plans. In fact both Tejashwi and Chirag Paswan seem to have hit a chord with the youth vote, more so if you take into account the fact that at age 31 and 38, respectively, the sum total of Tejashwi and Chirag’s age adds up to 69, which happens to be Nitish Kumar’s current age. Which makes one wonder if the two can get their political sums aligned as well. There is a lot of speculation that Chirag is the BJP’s Plan B if Nitish Kumar doesn’t get the requisite numbers, but can both Tejashwi and Chirag come together? The duo have a cordial equation and recently Tejashwi was heard commenting about the way Nitish treated Chirag at a time when he needed a father figure in his life. In fact while as Deputy Chief Minister whenever he was referred to as Bihar’s most eligible bachelor and quizzed about his marriage plans he used to point to Chirag and say since he is older he should get married first.
Can Tejashwi spring a surprise?
Initially one thought that the Bihar election was a walkover for the ruling combine, but of late the crowds at Tejashwi’s rallies have sparked speculation that the RJD may walk off with a larger chunk than anticipated. Will Tejashwi benefit from the anti incumbency against Nitish Kumar, for all agree this election is for Nitish to win—or lose. It is the Nitish of 2010 against the Nitish of 2020. And the BJP seems to have been caught napping, First there was the self goal over the free Covid vaccine promise. Then came the squabble over jobs. Initially the BJP made fun of Tejashwi’s promise of 10 lakh jobs annually but when they realised that this issue had hit a chord, it came up with its own figure of 19 lakh jobs annually to top the RJD numbers. This got P. Chidambaram, former Finance Minister to take a dig at the BJP on social media when he tweeted: “I did not know that 19 was a smaller number than 10. I think I should go back to primary school.”
Prohibition as a Poll Issue
It’s interesting to note that the woman voter whom Nitish Kumar had intended to woo when he imposed prohibition in the state is not very happy with this decision, for liquor continues to be sold, albeit illegally and therefore at very high prices. As they say, dukan bandh ho gayee hai, daru nahin (he has closed the shops but not the alcohol). But what is interesting is that while the youth in general are in favour of lifting prohibition, Tejashwi speaks in favour of continuing with this policy.
From Campaign Committee Chief to No.10
While he was with the Congress, Jyotiraditya Scindia was the head of the Madhya Pradesh Campaign Committee, which also propelled him into a position of being a contender for the Chief Minister’s chair. Now in the BJP, his face is missing from the party’s official campaign posters, and his name comes tenth on the list of star campaigners for the state’s bypolls. With his promised Cabinet post still to be announced, one wonders whether he is regretting his move to switch camps. It’s not as if Shivraj Singh Chouhan is going to be any more accommodating than Kamal Nath. And if Scindia is eyeing a role at the Centre, a lot depends on the kind of portfolio that is handed to him.