Bihar By-elections
The CPI(ML) Performance

In the recently held by-elections in Bihar for 10 assembly seats, we contested in 6 seats of Piro (Bhojpur), Pali (Patna), Barachatti (Gaya), Nabinagar (Aurangabad), Jeeradei (Siwan) and Warisnagar (Samastipur). All through the campaign period, BJP-Samata alliance, JD and CPI(ML) were in the centrestage of political discussions and the media too projected them as the three main contending forces.

CPI declared its support for us in Pali. Though it had no electoral significance as CPI has no organisational base there, yet the debate within CPI's leading body was important. A majority of the executive body of the state unit supported the proposal to declare support to Maley (as CPI(ML) is popularily known) for the sake of Left unity. It was only through the intervention of the central leadership that the proposal was restricted to extending support on only one seat.

Laloo's hold over his social base including among Yadavs is fast slipping. A rebel Yadav candidate put JD in trouble at Piro whereas Yadavs in Pali refused to back Chandradeo Verma's (the sitting JD MP from Arrah and a central minister) protege. Muslims too were in two minds. Koeris, a major backward caste have shifted their allegiance to Samata and this combined with the backlash of the forward castes has provided a strong base to BJP-Samata combine. They were able to snatch four seats from JD. As part of a political deal, the Party Unity group this time did not call for a poll boycott and instead actively worked for JD in Pali.

We came second in one seat and third in two seats. In our best ever performance in Piro, we scored about 31,000 votes and came second. Muslims voted overwhelmingly for us as our main slogan was to defeat the killers of Bathani Tola.

Coming third at Pali, we polled about 28,000 votes, 2000 less than JD's tally. Majority of Yadav votes went to a Yadav candidate from Samajwadi Party who could manage nearly 25,000 votes. We did get a section of the Yadav and Muslim votes, but our polling rate in our own strongholds was quite poor. Otherwise, bridging a gap of 6000 was quite achievable. This demands a serious probe.
In Barachatti and Jeeradei we continued to remain marginalised, polling 8,500 and 2,300 votes respectively. An impressive performance was registered in Nabinagar where we increased our tally from 300 votes in the last elections, to 2,500 votes this time. Wasimnagar was a new seat where we contested for the first time.

Political situation in Bihar is increasingly becoming volatile with the decline in Laloo's charisma and slipping of his hold over his own party. We have launched statewide campaign against corruption. Our political rallies at Biharshariff and Navada, addressed by Com.Vinod Mishra were very well attended. On November 5 and 7, such rallies are also being organised at Jehanabad and Sasaram. AISA and RYA have planned to organise a convention at Patna on similar lines.

CPI-CPI(M) are holding a demonstration at Patna on November 7 in their bid to project their distance from JD. BJP-Samata with their demand for sacking Laloo's government are also flexing their muscles. Samajwadi Party and its leader Pappu Yadav are also desperately trying to intervene to win to its fold, the Yadav-Muslim support that is increasingly deserting Laloo. Samajwadi Party has approached us for joint moves.

In short, Bihar is poised for a serious political crisis, powerful mass movements and political realignments. By-election results have only accelerated this process.