CPIML Victory: Consolidation of People’s Agenda in Bihar
Consolidation of People

After nearly 35 years, the CPIML registered a historic win on the Ara Lok Sabha seat. We remember that in 1989 Comrade Rameshwar Ram had won the seat under the banner of IPF. In the adjacent Lok Sabha seat of Karakat, CPIML successfully registered another victory. Even though no Lok Sabha candidate from the left had been able to secure a victory in Bihar in the last 20 years, CPIML victory this time is an indication of the rise of a new left in the Hindi belt.

Despite a strong anti-NDA sentiment in Bihar, the BJP did not face losses in the state in that proportion. It was Bihar which paved the way for a greater alliance amongst the parties in the opposition in defence of democracy and constitution and against Modi's rising tyranny. It also becomes important to remember CPIML Party Congress held in Patna in February 2023 for it is an important chapter in the history of solidifying an opposition against the Modi regime. While the opposition was taking the form of a formidable political alliance which would guarantee the BJP a definitive defeat, the BJP played its cards and managed to remove Nitish Kumar from the opposition in January 2024 thus overturning the final result in its own favour. But the struggling masses of Bihar rallied against this political manoeuvre. The united opposition's hopes found new horizons when lakhs rallied behind it at Patna's historic Gandhi Maidan in the ‘Jan Sankalp Rally’ of 3rd March 2024. Not just Gandhi Maidan but all of Patna bloomed with banners in the red, green and Indian tricolour. It was here from Patna, when Bihar declared that the switching loyalties of a mere individual or his party would not affect the battle against Modi’s dictatorship.

The BJP regularly seemed to be on the backfoot during the Lok Sabha election campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to hold multiple ‘sabhas’ in Bihar and his narrative was mainly that of hate and negativity. The INDIA alliance on the other hand chose caste census, permanent appointment of teachers, employment, displacement, inflation and others as the main points of its election campaign narrative. Out of the 9 seats won by the INDIA alliance, 6 seats went to polls in the last phase. These were the very seats where the election campaign of the INDIA alliance was majorly consolidated by its leaders.

According to the vote percentage, RJD polled the highest at 22.14% while the BJP and JD(U) saw a decline of more than 3%. All things considered, the defeat of all of INDIA's candidates in Darbhanga, Tirhut and Kosi regions is shocking. Even though RJD’s candidates saw an increase in vote share, this could not be converted into a victory. The CPI(M) and CPI too met with the same fate. This became the main reason why the INDIA alliance could only secure 9 seats despite a widespread and strong anti-NDA sentiment. The nature of victory of the various alliance partners is of a curiously disproportionate nature. The RJD which contested in a total of 23 seats, managed a win in only 4. The Congress won 3 out of the 9 seats in which it contested and the CPIML which contested on only 3 seats, won all but one. Apart from this, Pappu Yadav won the Purnia seat as an independent candidate.

Continuing its strike rate from the Bihar Assembly elections of 2020, the CPIML has once again won a significant victory in the history of Bihar's politics. This goes on to show that had the INDIA alliance made a more practical strategy, it could have bagged a total of 20 seats.

Shahabad, Magadh and Seemanchal to an extent were the primary areas of INDIA's victory. This was also the very site of the opposition alliance; the Mahagathbandhan’s victory during the Bihar Assembly elections of 2020. Seemanchal went to polls in the second phase, Shahabad and Magadh, went to polls in the seventh and final phase of elections. All of the four seats in Shahabad went to the INDIA alliance. ML registered a victory in Ara and Karakat, RJD in Buxar and Congress in Sasaram (SC). Magadh, Pataliputra, Aurangabad and Jehanabad went to the RJD. Seemanchal, Kishanganj and Katihar went to the Congress and Pappu Yadav as previously mentioned won in Purnia.

The victories in Shahabad-Magadh as well as the defeats in the rest of Bihar are matters of thorough investigation for the INDIA alliance. The key to winning the rest of Bihar lies in the wins in Shahabad-Magadh. From the perspective of movements on the ground, Shahabad and Magadh have long been strongholds of the CPIML movement. A significant portion of the Dalit and Extremely Backward Communities in this area repose their trust in the CPIML and this played a crucial role in not only the victory of CPIML but also that of the RJD and Congress. The CPIML was the determining factor in Congress's victory in Katihar. The lead of 64,000 votes gained by its candidate Tariq Anwar in Balrampur Vidhan Sabha was significant in his overall win by nearly 50,000 votes.

An analysis of the election results brings us to two major conclusions. If the INDIA alliance wishes for a decisive victory in Bihar, it must do two things. First; the left movement infused with the revolutionary rigour of the CPIML must be fostered and strengthened across Bihar and second, RJD must actively engage with its political and social base at the grassroot level. The election result exposes a significant infiltration of BJP’s ideology in large sections of North Bihar amidst RJD's social base. Making social justice the basis, RJD must move towards greater democratisation of its mass base and cross the bridge towards movements of the working class.

JD(U) and LJP’s victory in Bihar was a surprise for the RJD. JD(U) became the major contributor in BJP’s victory. The working assumption during the election campaign that JD(U)’s political stature was well on its way towards a significant drop proved to be false. Despite the win, Nitish Kumar's political surrender during the formation of the Modi 3.0, was deeply resented by the people of Bihar. This was an opportune moment for Nitish Kumar to stand firm on the issue of granting special status to Bihar but he betrayed Bihar’s aspirations once again.

As the situation currently stands, the INDIA alliance must formulate a plan of action to advance its political role in Bihar. The demand for the status of ‘Special State’ to Bihar, the diverse set of agendas of Bihar’s poor and modernization of Sone river canal system must be transformed into serialised movements by the INDIA alliance. The state assembly elections are not far from the horizon, going ahead on this path will be the perfect strategy to ensure a decisive defeat to NDA in 2025.