With the Election Commission announcing the 5 phase schedule for Bihar elections we are set for a defining contest perhaps the most important one ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections.

The contest is bipolar between BJP led alliance on one hand (which has Paswan, Kushwaha and Manjhi in its fold) and grand Janata alliance (which has Nitish, Lalu and Congress). Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party (SP) have left the grand Janata alliance unhappy with the seats they were allotted.

For the first time in many years Bihar does not face multi-cornered contest as most of the bigwigs have joined one or the other alliance. However, there are many small parties which can spoil the game plan of these two alliances namely Communist Party of India, Communist Party Marxist, CPI (ML), NCP, SP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. These parties have pockets of influence in the state and could dent the chances of either of the alliance in these seats.

These 6 parties along with Independents have accounted for upwards of 22% vote share in last three polls in the state. These six parties are pretty strong in 75 odd seats in the state and can damage the prospects of either NDA or Janata alliance.

Even in Lok Sabha 2014 polls other small parties and independents bagged 15% vote share. In the state bye-polls which followed they recorded 17% vote share.

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Source: indiavotes.com

Samajwadi Party’s influence has been declining in the state over the years and Lalu has emerged as the undisputed leader of Yadav community. Still, SP has the potential to damage Janata alliance more than NDA and hit its Muslim-Yadav votebank.

NCP has a decent presence especially among minorities in the state (mainly Katihar district) and it could again damage Janata alliance more than NDA.

BSP has the highest vote share among the smaller groups mostly comprising of Dalits / Mahadalits. It could damage prospects of NDA which is hoping to garner majority of the community votes with Paswan and Manjhi on its side. If BSP retains its vote share, Paswan’s Lok Janashakti and Manjhi’s Hindustan Awam Morcha will not be able to win more seats for NDA..

CPI and CPI-ML have historically had a decent presence in the state. CPI fought the Lok Sabha polls with Janata Dal United. It is trying to forge an alliance with SP, NCP, CPI-ML and CPM. The communists have among their vote bank Most Backward Classes and poor class. They have the potential of hurting Janata alliance as well as NDA because of overlapping vote bank.

Influential Seats of Smaller Parties

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Source: politicalbaaba.com

Independents have always played a major role in state elections in Bihar. These independents usually are people with significant influence in their constituencies because of their lineage, robinhood image, messiah of poor etc.

With Lalu and Nitish deciding to fight on 100 seats each which is a significant clampdown from the previous elections (168 and 141 respectively), there are expected to be many rebel candidates from both these camps. A few of them could be accommodated by opposition mainly Paswan, Manjhi and Kushwaha. However, many could still not be accommodated and would contest as independents.

Apart from these parties, AIMIM is expected to make its debut in Bihar. As stated in my previous article on Owaisi Impact in Bihar, AIMIM is expected to dent into Muslim vote bank of Lalu in seats it decides to contest.

Expected Impact of Smaller Parties on Various Alliances:

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Source: politicalbaaba.com

In an election which appears neck to neck and more so bipolar, (boiling down to individual seats) independent candidates and small parties are capable of creating a nuisance value and alter the poll campaign / plans / prospects of the two major alliances.

Who will they impact more is a million dollar question which would be known only after the polls. But one thing is for sure they could play a major role especially in case of a hung assembly. So stay tuned….

My article in Niticentral

http://www.niticentral.com/2015/09/11/potential-spoilers-bihar-elections-333263.html

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