After PM Modi’s special package, will Kejriwal be the antidote that will help Nitish in Bihar?

New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday declared support to his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar and promised to send his party workers to assist the ruling Janata Dal(United) in devising its campaign strategy for the upcoming assembly elections in the state. Kejriwal also agreed to make public appearances with Kumar in a function to be organised by the Bihar government. The two leaders will also address joint election rallies.
“Mr Nitish Kumar today invited Mr Arvind Kejriwal to visit Bihar to which he agreed. He will attend a function to be organised by the Bihar government. He also promised to send his party workers to help us in the poll campaign and hold joint public meetings. The schedule of these public gatherings schedule will be finalised by the two leaders,” JD(U) Secretary General and Rajya Sabha MP KC Tyagi told Firstpost.
So why is Nitish Kumar, who is running for the third time and goes head to head with the BJP in Bihar, desperate to have Kejriwal’s support?
The reason is the youth of the state and large number of Biharis living in the national capital.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance(NDA) is largely banking on upper caste and a section of Dalit-Mahadalit votes, Muslims Yadavs and Extremely Backward Classes(EBCs) appear to be the support base of the left of centre alliance of the JD(U), RJD and Congress. Therefore, none of the coalitions seems to be getting clear majority if the given caste and class equations works.
In this situation, the youth, who account for a sizable population of the state and common in all caste, take centre stage because they can tilt the balance either way. They are considered to be least bothered about caste and identity politics. According to an estimate, there are 5,000-10,000 new voters in the age-group of 18-23 in every constituency. Like rest of the country, this chunk of voters are likely to vote for party that assures them a good future.
This is the reason that all political parties are visibly trying hard to appease the youth so that it can tap their liquid votes in its favour.
Knowing the importance of their votes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi never fails to talk about Young India, Digital India, skill development, setting up technical institutions and job creation.
On the other hand, the 46-year-old Delhi chief minister is also popular among the youth because of his “clean image and crusade against corruption”. Youth contributed a major portion of the total votes his party got in the 7 February elections. Kumar wants to use his ability to mobilise youth voters.
The second and equally important reason is the presence of huge number of Bihari migrants in the national capital. The Biharis, who live in Delhi and other cities, have family members, relatives and friends back home. The Aam Aadmi party (AAP) chief urged them to call their family members and relatives in their state asking them to ensure Kumar’s victory in the same manner in which they helped catapult his own party to power in Delhi where it won 67 of the 70 assembly seats.
Kejriwal has successfully built an image even in remote villages of Bihar. He has managed to portray that he is the only leader in the country who stopped the Modi juggernaut in Delhi. His projection of being a victim suffering under the Centre has gotten him the sympathy and the vast middle class everywhere is of the view that he is a visionary leader who wants to change the system but he is not being allowed to work independently.
This image of him is likely to make his appeal more effective in the state.
To further strengthen his image among Biharis, his government on Wednesday organised ‘Bihar Samman Samaroh’, a function to felicitate people from the state living in the city, who have made significant contributions in various fields. The Bihar chief minister attended the programme as the chief guest.
Notably, 11 AAP MLAs of Delhi, who have their roots in Bihar, will share the stage with Kumar in a function to be organised by the state government where the Delhi chief minister would be the chief guest.
Sharing stage for the first time after AAP leader came closer to the JD(U) leader, Kejriwal praised Kumar for his “commitment” to fight corruption and said he will go to Bihar whenever Kumar will call him.
The AAP used social media aggressively for campaigning and it helped the party win the youth vote. Therefore, Kumar also wants to use this capability of AAP activists to ensure his victory.