The unseen equations behind Bihar pre-poll numbers
The largest pre-poll survey has given a clear lead to the National Democratic Alliance. But there are more to these numbers than meets the eye.
The CSDS-Lokniti pre-poll survey of Bihar elections has given the BJP-JD(U) alliance i.e the NDA a clear lead with 38% of the vote share, the Mahagathbandhan of RJD, Congress and left parties comes second with 32%. But there are still many unknowns and uncertainties that can upset these numbers.
First, the polls were conducted between October 10 and 17, before the campaign went under full swing. If the previous election’s pre-poll survey is anything to go by, the mood of the electorate has been known to change drastically during the campaign phase. Besides the share of people who say they might change their choice on election day is at 14%, much higher than what it was last time.
There is also a big chunk of undecided voters, especially among the poorest sections like Mushars and Mahadalits. They would probably lean towards welfare schemes that RJD has promised.
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Another big unknown this time around is the Lok Janshakthi Party, which while being part of the NDA is fighting against Nitish Kumar, though not against the BJP. The party has fielded most of its candidates against the JD(U) and previous years’ data suggest that LPJ is very capable of making a dent in the latter’s prospects. Unless the BJP gets tougher on LPJ or kicks it out the alliance in the centre, the NDA votes will continue to be divided.
The incumbent’s chief minister’s popularity has also decreased but it was lower in the pre-poll survey in 2015, which he won. He continues to have the supports of Other Backward Classes except the Yadavs (who, along with Muslims, usually vote for RJD) and the upper castes, who are usually with the BJP.
Unless the Mahagathbandhan is able to convince Muslims that they have a lead over the NDA, it’s likely that their votes will be divided by the AIMIM. Muslims have also reported highest levels of uncertainty and reluctance to vote at 17% compared to 9% for Yadavs and upper castes.