'Voters from the forward castes voted for the JD-U because they feared Laloo Yadav's return, but since that fear is no longer there they may not see the need to vote for Nitish Kumar anymore.'
"If Nitish Kumar doesn't fare well next month, his political capital will be further depleted resulting in a void."
"The BJP will be the most natural occupant of that void."
"The BJP will become stronger by default, not by fighting it out, but due to the absence of any other strong party in the state," Professor Prabhat Ghosh, director of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih in part two of the interview.
This is the first election for the RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) without Laloo Yadav in the campaign. How will RJD fare without Laloo's active presence?
The Yadavs and Muslims still remain the core vote base of the RJD. Even in the worst of times, the RJD has got 20 per cent of the vote.
If they have to win, they need votes of the non RJD backward castes, extremely backward caste and scheduled castes. They would also need some forward caste votes with the Congress's help.
If they manage to do that then they will be able to convert 20%-25% vote to 30%-35% or even 40%. But it will be very difficult for them to get a majority.
The RJD may get more votes than the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
There is one more factor: Nitish has won support from 2005 onwards because many voters who may not have liked him continued to vote for him because they feel if they don't, Laloo will come back.
Voters from the forward castes vote for the JD-U because they fear Laloo's return, but since that fear is no longer there they may not see the need to vote for Nitish anymore. They might shift their vote to the RJD or Congress also.
Can the BJP bring in Giriraj Singh or Ravishankar Prasad as chief minister if BJP gets more seats than the JD-U?
No. In Bihar one cannot expect to have a chief minister from the forward castes for the next 20-25 years.
Brahmins, Bhumihars, Kayasthas or Rajputs will remain on the backbench.
One of Laloo Prasad's foremost contributions in Bihar politics is the displacement of the forward castes from power. That is why Laloo remains popular even when in jail.
Many who don't vote for Laloo still acknowledge his contribution in making enough space for backward castes in politics. This is his big achievement and this has happened in only two states of India -- Bihar and UP.
If you take a state like Maharashtra -- the social base of the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) is the same. Similarly in West Bengal, but this is not the case in Bihar or UP.
The social base of the SP (Samajwadi Party), BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) or RJD is totally different from other parties.
It is a sort of achievement in these states that backwards have won the battle for political power.
Some backwards may still vote for the BJP, but will not abstain completely from voting for RJD or BSP or SP.
What have been Tejashwi Yadav's mistakes as leader of the RJD?
He has been in the Opposition most of the time and was deputy CM only for one-and-a-half year.
As deputy CM, he was neither exceptionally good or exceptionally bad. I don't think he has made mistakes, his problem is that he is too young and inexperienced.
He also had to deal with the negative points that his father had earned. If you are a son of a jailed leader, it carries some negative baggage.
Will BJP dominate Bihar politics in the post Laloo-Nitish era?
Nitish Kumar is almost 70 and his political capital is much depleted. If he doesn't fare well next month, his political capital will be further depleted resulting in a void.
The JD-U without Nitish Kumar is nothing. The BJP is the most likely player that will fill that void.
It is not as if the BJP has to fight to win that spot. The void will be filled up either by the BJP or Congress or LJP (Lok Janshakti Party), but the BJP will be the most natural occupant of that void.
They will become stronger by default, not by fighting it out, but due to the absence of any other strong party in the state.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com