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Bihar elections: Nitish-NaMo grudge match to shape Modi captaincy

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New Delhi: It is imminent that by November 8, the Bihar enigma will come to the fore as a consequence of a high-octane grudge match featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. It is a battle that is most likely to affect national politics and shape Modi’s remaining tenure as PM, importantly his government’s capacity to push reforms and key legislations in Parliament.

nitish_sl_-11-10-2012The chime and bugle for Bihar battle were sounded on Wednesday when the Election Commission announced a five-phase poll schedule, beginning October 12 and ending November 5, with results on November 8.

On one-side are OBC stalwarts Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, along with Congress, and on the other, the NDA, led by Modi and supported by alliance partners Ramvilas Paswan, JD(U) rebel Dalit politician Jiten Manjhi and OBC politician Upendra Kushwaha.

The essentially bi-polar contest will test Bihar’s caste and political equations against Modi’s mega development pledge. Though a state election yet Bihar’s results could have a massive fallout on the Modi government. A win would improve his political stock and empower him to deliver on policy issues like GST and land bills. Equally, a defeat could hobble his government and make Modi wary of bold reforms.

Leading from the front, Modi has made a bold pitch for development, bolstered by a mega Rs 1.25 lakh crore package, even as the NDA is counting on its outreach to backwards and dalits, assisted by allies, to counter the backward credentials of its rivals. Development is emerging as the main poll theme with Nitish Kumar challenging Modi’s package and coming up with a Rs 2.7 lakh crore deal for Bihar of his own.

If caste elements work the way they usually do, the Lalu-Nitish-Cong ‘secular’ alliance will have a clear edge as the backward castes put together, along with Muslims, produce an electoral arithmetic that’s hard to beat. But if Modi changes somewhat this arithmetic with his personal appeal and promise of development, the NDA would not only change the electoral pattern in Bihar, it could also bury Mandal politics – its rival axis in the Hindi heartland– at least for a while.

Primary reports from Bihar suggest that NDA has moved ahead. What’s creating this impression among observers are Modi’s political rallies– huge and enthusiastic. The youth, in particular, are said to be smitten by his way of talk on development and jobs. Even the satta bazaar odds are favouring Modi. But these initial reports as well as satta bazaar odds have been proved wrong quite often.

After Bihar polls, if NDA is beaten, it will find it very hard to cut deals with non-NDA parties like Trinamool Congress, BJD, SP and AIADMK while an emboldened Congress- despite its minimal role in the Bihar showdown- will be tempted to step up its opposition in Parliament.

At another level, the Bihar fight is a fierce combat between the competing appeals of Modi and Nitish Kumar, both of whom claim to have delivered good governance and see themselves, as leaders with appeal beyond caste lines. Modi has already managed four rallies in Bihar and his focus of attack has been Nitish whom he has dubbed as an unreliable and duplicitous leader.

Mud has been flying thick and fast with political fireworks lighting the electoral firmament ahead of the formal announcement by the election commission.

The NDA is looking to better its appeal beyond the upper castes to MBCs like Nishads and their sub-castes, other occupation-related most backwards like julahas, lonias and badhais. Here an important element of the NDA strategy is to woo the MBCs in opposition to the rival camp’s dependence on assertive OBCs like Yadavs.

With inputs from TOI

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Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

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According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn't reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise., wikimedia commons

The Modi government hasnt scored too well on farmers issues, jobs and prices of essential commodities at the end of its four years in power, according to an online survey that also found a substantial number of people calling its performance “below expectations”.

The survey done by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, says that 43 per cent of those who participated in the poll rated the government as performing below expectations, 29 per cent rated it as meeting them and 28 per cent said the government was “exceeding expectations.

“Most performance parameters (of the government) show a decline over time as the gap between expectations set and impact on daily life rises,” according to the survey done with over 62,000 citizens from over 250 districts across the country. Thirty-five per cent respondents were females.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.

The respondents have rated the government low on reducing crime against women and children, generating employment, improving farmers life, lowering cost of living and healthcare, the survey says.

However, it has scored well on improving India’s image globally, handling of Pakistan, fighting terrorism, infrastructure development and reducing tax harassment.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
43% say performance of Modi govt. is below expectations, IANS

“Around 60 per cent citizens said price of essential commodities and cost of living have not reduced. Only 33 per cent believe that the price of essential commodities have come down in the last four years.”

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

In the area of healthcare, only 32 per cent respondents believe that facilities and services have improved in the last four years whereas 62 per cent say no it has not.

On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn’t reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise.

Around 46 per cent respondents believe that doing business in India was now easier while 39 per cent say it is not the case.

The respondents were asked if sufficient new infrastructure development — roads, power, irrigation, broadband — had taken place in the last four years.

“Approximately 65 per cent said yes while 29 per cent said no.”

Around 49 per cent respondents believe that corruption in India has reduced in the last four years while 44 per cent believe it has not reduced.

Asked if they felt India’s image had improved, 82 per cent said yes while 13 per cent said no.

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Respondents were also asked if they approved the way Indian Government had handled the perpetual conflict on the borders and relations with Pakistan in the last four years.

“Around 74 per cent felt it has improved strongly while 24 per cent felt that government’s tactics are not right.”

People were asked if they believed that terrorism and acts of terror against Indians have reduced in the last few years. Around 61 per cent respondents said yes while 35 per cent disagreed.

On the issues of communalism, 50 per cent felt that the government it well in the last few years while 45 per cent no. (IANS)