With the Bihar Assembly elections done and dusted, resulting in yet another victory for the NDA and a stinging defeat for the Mahagathbandhan, disgruntled propagandists are already weaving a spurious narrative to discredit the hard-fought victory by the JDU, BJP and other affiliate parties of the NDA and casting a pall on their triumph.
Many of the so-called intellectuals who wished to see the “secular” Mahagathabandhan alliance of the Congress party, RJD and others to win, are having a hard time fathoming the unpleasant reality. After running a polarising campaign against the JDU and BJP in the run-up to the Bihar elections, demonising PM Modi, BJP and JDU as anti-Muslims, they have now resorted to passing the buck on the winning coalition for not having a single MLA from the Muslim community.
“Bihar has for the first time since Independence got a ruling coalition without a single MLA from its largest minority community,” tweeted Arfa Khanum Sherwani, a journalist with the leftist online rag ‘The Wire’. Sherwani shared a report from ‘The Telegraph’ that attempted to cast the NDA alliance as ‘anti-Muslim’ for not getting a single Muslim MLA to the Bihar Vidhan Sabha.
Several other left-leaning “intellectuals” and pliant media portals, too, have toed this line to continue their demonisation of the BJP and its allied parties as against the interests of Muslims. This line of thought jibes with their larger propaganda that BJP is working assiduously to disenfranchise the Muslims of the country.
This is naturally done to trigger a fear psychosis among the Muslims of the country so that they can be mobilised to vote en masse against the BJP and its allies. The same methods were tried when the BJP abolished Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and when it passed the Citzishenship Amendment Act last year. A concerted attempt has been made by the leftists to portray the BJP as a party that is antithetical to the Muslims. By doing so, they are trying to salvage their preferred parties—Congress and other leftist parties—who have been shunted to the fringes of the Indian political landscape.
However, while the media organisations and leftist ideologues pin the blame of the zero Muslim representation in Bihar Assembly elections on the JDU-BJP alliance, it is worth noting if there are any merits to the arguments made here or they are just strawman arguments put forth to conceal the stark truth.
On the surface, it does appear true that not a single Muslim MLA from the winning coalition has made it to the Vidhan Sabha. But the devil lies in the detail. One of the biggest coalition partners of the NDA alliance, JDU fielded 11 Muslim candidates in the fray for the recently concluded Bihar Vidhan Sabha polls. However, not a single of them won to make it to the Bihar Legislative Assembly.
Performance of Muslim candidates fielded by JDU in the Bihar Assembly elections
Saba Zafar contested the Amour Vidhan Sabha constituency seat for the JDU and secured 22.72 per cent votes. However, she lost to the AIMIM candidate Akhtarul Iman who racked up a stunning 51 per cent of the vote share.
In Araria, the Congress party candidate Abidur Rahman scored a comprehensive victory over the JDU candidate Shagufta Azim. Rahman polled nearly double the vote that Azim could manage to get.
JDU’s Md. Naushad Alam in Thakurganj could manage to garner a paltry 11.46 per cent of vote share while his RJD counterpart Saud Alam polled a stunning 42 per cent vote share and won the Vidhan Sabha seat.
The story of Kochadhaman for the Muslim candidate fielded by JDU was likewise depressing. Mujahid Alam of the JDU lost to AIMIM candidate Muhammad Izhar Asfi, who swept the elections with almost 50 per cent vote share.
In Bihar’s Kanti, RJD candidate Muhammad Israil Mansuri trounced the JDU candidate Mohammad Jamal.
Khurshid Firoz Ahmad of JDU from Sikta Vidhan Sabha constituency trailed by a margin of about 14,000 votes to the CPI(MLL) candidate Birendra Prasad Gupta.
Another Muslim candidate from the JDU, Md. Sharfuddin lost to the RJD candidate Chetan Anand in the Sheohar constituency.
The Darbhanga Rural constituency saw a close electoral tussle between the RJD candidate Lalit Kumar Yadav and JDU’s Faraz Fatmi. However, in the end, Yadav emerged victorious, with a lead of just several thousand votes over Fatmi.
In Marhaura district, Jitendra Kumar Ray of the RJD defeated Altaf Alam of the JDU by a handsome margin.
The election result in Mahua was no different from Marhaura. Here too, Mukesh Kumar Raushan handed over a resounding defeat to JDU’s Muslim candidate Ashma Parveen.
In Bihar’s Dumraon, CPI(MLL) candidate Ajit Kumar Singh won the elections, defeating Anjum Ara of JDU by a comfortable margin.
Political parties prioritise the winnability of candidates
As it is clear from the above results, none of the Muslim candidates fielded by the NDA alliance partners managed to win the assembly elections. The JDU sent 43 members to the Vidhan Sabha. Had all the 11 Muslim candidates from the JDU won the elections, they would have had 54 seats in the Assembly, and a staggering 20 per cent of them would have been Muslims.
However, this was not to be the case as the Muslim candidates failed to inspire the votaries in their constituencies to come out and support them. There is a complex dynamic at work in the elections and based on this dynamic, candidates are chosen by the respective political parties to fight the elections. In essence, this is the crux of the numerous electoral victories scored by the BJP. They have stressed on the winnability of the candidate rather than placing importance on seeking validation from “secular” quarter, as any political party would.
Political parties select candidates that are most likely to win the elections. Selecting a large number of Muslim candidates but not getting even a single one of them to the Legislative Assembly is not a very wise strategy. Therefore, the fearmongering about the lack of Muslim MLAs from the NDA in the Bihar Assembly is severely misguided. Because quite clearly, it was not due to a lack of candidates. Furthermore, their absence will be compensated abundantly by the elected representatives of the AIMIM.
It is ought to be remembered that in recent times, liberals have been promoting the idea of separate reserved electorates for the Muslim community, an idea that was rejected by the Constituent Assembly itself. The idea was rejected because it was held responsible for the partition of the country itself. The current fearmongering about the lack of Muslim NDA MLAs in Bihar appears to be part of a larger agenda to rake up that demand.