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Tejashwi’s ‘risk hai to ishk hai’ strategy strikes a chord in Bihar

Amitabh Tiwari
·Columnist
·4-min read

The web series ‘Scam’ based on the life of stock broker Harshad Mehta has received rave reviews. ‘Risk hai to ishq hai’, a dialogue in the series which Harshad uses to convince his brother to start stock broking business, is a big hit.

This dialogue also finds mention in the posters put up across cities in Bihar.

Tejashwi has taken big risks in these elections:

1. He eased out Jiten Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha and Mukesh Sahani from Mahagathbandjan (MGB) at a time when the Rashtriya Janata Dal needed to broaden its alliance beyond its traditional core vote bloc of Muslims and Yadavs. This strategy also risks division of the anti-NDA/Opposition vote.

2. Tejashwi has refrained from using the images of his father and founder of RJD, Lalu Prasad Yadav, in party campaign material: posters, videos, films. While this has been done to keep focus away from corruption charges on the family, this risks irking the traditional and old voter base of the party.

3. He has given Congress 70 seats to contest. This is way higher than the 43 seats, the party contested last time in 2015. Even hardcore supporters feel this could boomerang like in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh gave 100 seats to Congress in 2017 and the party couldn't even win 10 seats.

Tejashwi hopes the Congress party’s traditional supporters like upper castes, Dalits and MBCs could back the party due to high anti-incumbency against Nitish and provide it the extra votes required to edge out the National Democratic Alliance.

4. Tejashwi has made unemployment a big issue in these elections. It has emerged as one of the ‘top 3’ issues. Now unemployment is a bread and butter issue which is there in most polls. It's believed that voting takes place on the basis of perception and not the actual work done by parties.

His promise of providing 10 lakh jobs was first ridiculed by both Nitish and the BJP citing reasons from land locked status to shortage of finances. However, it gained such significant traction that BJP doubled the job promise to 19 lakhs in its manifesto. He has smartly put NDA on the back foot on this issue.

5. Then he did the unbelievable stuff. The nation as well as voters of Nitish including his opponents give him credit for bringing development in the state of Bihar. GDP growth of the state has been higher than the national average and the law and order situation has significantly improved. Nitish earned the tag of sushashan babu in Bihar.

It is this image which Tejashwi is targeting, alleging rampage corruption in Nitish Kumar’s flagship program saat nischay. He is taking on Nitish’s track record head on highlighting state’s poor per capita income, poverty, low urbanisation, high unemployment and crime against women records.

This strategy bears the risk of backfiring as Nitish could hit back with jungle raj of Lalu from 1990-2005. Nitish did, but the young people barely remember that era and it has not worked well with the voters.

So these are the risks he has taken. Now the resultant ishq.

Almost 51% of the voting population in the state is between 18 and 39 years of age and it is lapping up this promise of employment generation. Biharis are very fond of government jobs which are helping his cause.

He is running a solid social media campaign which is drawing youth towards MGB. The restless youth of the state who have been impacted by the pandemic are thronging in large crowds to hear him at his rallies.

This has prompted the Bharatiya Janata Party to admit that even Lalu used to draw similar crowds. This is no mean achievement for the young scion.

He is emerging as the most eligible bachelors of Bihar. He is gaining popularity among female voters which is a stronghold of Nitish due to popular schemes like free cycle distribution and prohibition.

Tejashwi has converted a done deal into a close contest in Bihar riding on his ‘risk hai to ishq hai’ strategy. It remains to be seen whether he is able to pull off a surprise win or misses the bus, like the Congress did in Gujarat.