The lack of cohesion in ticket distribution is one of three key variables that could upset the BJP’s apple cart in Bihar
It was an exercise aimed at giving the impression of a cohesive unit at work. When Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son Tejaswi went to address an election rally at Raghopur in Bihar’s Vaishali district, he ensured that the venue had flags of all three parties of the coalition he is representing. He reportedly thanked the leaders of the Congress, the RJD and the Janata Dal (United) for choosing him as the coalition’s nominee from the constituency. A leading English daily has reported that even the audio clip that was played at the venue had slogans supporting leaders from all the coalition partners.
Tejaswi could have avoided mentioning leaders of his coalition partners, given that Raghopur is considered a RJD bastion. Lalu Prasad himself has represented this constituency twice. And former chief minister Rabri Devi too won the seat in 2005. But the fact that Tejaswi chose to project himself as the candidate of the “grand alliance” even in his home turf shows that he and other leaders of his party seem to be showing commitment to the alliance. Contrary to expectations, the RJD and the JD (U), two of the major parties of the three-party alliance, handled seat sharing arrangement smoothly. Even the process of selection of candidates passed off without any major hiccup.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in the state, on the other hand, is giving the impression of a divided house. Recent statements of three members of Parliament and one sitting member of the state Legislative Assembly indicate that all is not well within the party. Protests have come from within about the selection of candidates and also about applying different rules while fielding relatives of party leaders. Even the BJP’s coalition partners have expressed disappointment at the seat sharing arrangement among allies.
The cohesion, or lack of it, both in letter and spirit, is going to be one of the three key variables that will have a bearing on the eventual outcome of the elections.
The second, and most important, variable is whether there is a consolidation of other backward classes (OBCs) votes or not. Right after the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief’s statement hinting at a review of the reservation policy, the RJD and the JD (U) have left no stone unturned to project the BJP as a party that is against the interests of the OBCs. In fact, Lalu Prasad has on social media aggressively criticised the RSS chief’s statement. The choice of the issue as well as the medium to spread the message seems to be intended to reach out to the OBCs, especially the younger lot. A large section of the OBCs had voted for the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Lalu Prasad’s aggressive espousal of what has come to be known as Mandal 2 is aimed at reversing that trend.
The third variable in the forthcoming elections is going to be whether Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is able to split the Muslim votes or not. AIMIM is contesting in 24 assembly seats in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal region. The BJP had a lacklustre performance in this region even in the wave elections last year. If Owaisi is able to split votes of the minority community and there is counter-polarisation of Hindu votes, the region and its adjoining areas may well see a different result this time.
Following their father’s footstep, two sons of RJD chief Lalu Prasad today entered the electoral politics as their names were announced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the ensuing five-phase Assembly polls in Bihar elections 2015. Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav will contest from Yadav-dominated Mahua and Raghopur seats respectively as per the list of candidates for the ‘Grand Secular Alliance’ announced by Kumar. Both the seats in Vaishali district were with the JD(U) in 2010.
Apprehending the reverse, Mahua MLA Ravindra Rai has joined HAM (S) and is nominated by that party while at Raghopur, Satish Kumar, who had defeated Rabri Devi in 2010, has joined BJP which has fielded him from the seat. RJD has chosen Subedar Singh against former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM-S) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi at Makhdumpur (SC). At Imamganj (SC), the Speaker of outgoing Assembly Uday Narayan Chaudhary has been retained to take on Manjhi who is contesting from two seats.
A total of 25 women candidates have been given tickets forming 10 per cent of the total.
As per seat sharing, JD(U) and RJD are contesting for 101 seats each while Congress on 41 seats. Kumar said name of the candidate for Rajgir (SC) seat would be declared later. In reply to a question that while JD(U) has relied on its core support base in Kurmi and Kushwaha castes, RJD tilt is towards backward Yadav caste and Muslims while Congress nominees were mainly from general category, Kumar said, “each party has its area of influence and this has been kept in mind to help others’ candidates.”
State presidents of constituent parties JD(U), RJD and Congress in Basistha– Narayan Singh, Ramchandra Purbe and Ashok Chaudhary– were present at the release of list by the chief minister. Immediately after the list of candidates was announced, a large number of people protested at the JD(U) office complaining denial of tickets to persons of their choice.
Kumar and other leaders were present in the party office while slogan shouting was going on outside the gate.
Facing a tough challenge from the JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in battleground Bihar, the BJP-led NDA has decided to launch a campaign blitzkrieg by holding 500 rallies in Bihar Election 2015, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi alone addressing 20-22 big meetings. Modi, a seasoned campaigner and the alliance’s face for the polls in which it has not projected a chief ministerial candidate, will address the rallies barely two days after his arrival from a visit to Ireland and the US on September 29.
All opinion polls have predicted a photo finish in the polls, a must-win for BJP after its Delhi debacle. A victory in Bihar will give the Modi government the heft it requires to push its reform agenda, including introduction of the much-awaited GST. Modi, who remains a big draw in the state, can give it an edge in the fight. The Prime Minister will return to the state, where he has already held four rallies so far, with a public meeting on October 2 at Banka followed by another on October 4 in Lakhisarai, both of which are going to polls in the first phase on October 12.
BJP leaders said the party has made an elaborate plan, which will also see a host of Union ministers criss-cross the state every day in the run up to polls. Top BJP leaders will be seen in joint campaign with allies, LJP, RLSP and HAM (secular). The idea is to hold about 500 rallies which would be addressed by national and state-level leaders, sources said. NDA sources said Nitish-Lalu combine has been trying to play the backward caste card, particularly after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a review of the reservation policy, and Modi’s backward class identity, coupled with his development agenda, can neutralise such an attempt.
Reservation has been a sensitive issue in post-Mandal Bihar and any polarisation along caste lines will benefit the anti-BJP coalition given the presence of backward caste heavyweights like Nitish and Lalu in it. Despite its massive victory from the state in Lok Sabha elections, BJP had lost from Banka and the party is making a concerted push to win new grounds in the places it had not fared well in the 2014 polls. The two rival alliances have declared their candidates for all the seats barring a few, catering to their respective social base. Bihar will have a five-phase poll between October 12 and November 5. Counting of votes will take place on November 8.
Ever since the Election Commission on September 9 announced that election to Bihar’s 243 Assembly seats would take place over five phases starting October 12, 2015 the state, gripped by an ‘election fever’, has been a hotbed of political permutations and combinations
The Land of Buddha, whose mandate will be known on November 8, is also a major battleground for national politics. Historically, the state has boasted being home to the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad, besides revolutionary leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan.
Here are a few things to know about the hotting political scene in Bihar Polls 2015:
Root of the present political crisis
Even apart from the preparation for the state election, Bihar has been in the midst of a political tension because of differences between the ruling party and a rebel faction that has now become a breakaway party.
Months before the Assembly elections, Jitan Ram Manjhi, who had been installed as chief minister less than a year earlier, was asked to make way for party senior and former CM Nitish Kumar. JD(U) leader Kumar, who had quit office after his party fared poorly in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, now wanted to come back to power.
But Manjhi showed reluctance to vacate the CM’s chair and was expelled from the party. This led to a political crisis and the state’s Governor asked Manjhi to seek a vote of confidence on February 20. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had earlier broken away from its alliance with JD(U), announced it would support Manjhi. But Manjhi still failed to shore up enough support to reach the magical figure of 122 members required to retain power.
The birth of the ‘Grand Alliance’
When Kumar re-assumed the role of Bihar’s CM, and BJP’s support to Manjhi made it clear that the party could prove a challenger to JD(U) in the coming Assembly elections, several parties outside of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) joined hands to form a formidable grouping.
Since sweeping the Lok Sabha elections and forming a majority government at the Centre, the BJP-led NDA, under the leadership of Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, had become all the more strong across India. Barring a debacle in Delhi, where it got an unexpected drubbing from the Aam Aadmi Party, NDA had since convincingly swept almost every single election at every level.
It was to stop this NDA juggernaut that the so-called ‘Grand Alliance’ was formed. The members were the Sharad Yadav-led JD(U), Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), H D Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal and the Chandra Shekhar-founded Samajwadi Janata Party (Rashtriya).
Discord in the ‘Grand Alliance’
Things, however, did not remain rosy among all constituents of the Janata Parivar after a seat-sharing formula for the Assembly elections was announced. Initially, the alliance decided that JD(U) and RJD would contest on 100 seats each, and the Congress on 40. There also was the plan to offer the remaining three seats to Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
But NCP rebuffed this seat-sharing formula and decided to go it alone on all 243 seats. Besides, also miffed over the arrangement was the Samajwadi Party, which decided to opt out of the alliance. Though Lalu Prasad tried to cajole SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav by offering the three seats refused by NCP and two of RJD’s own, Yadav eventually walked out of the alliance, citing the grouping’s alleged closeness to the Congress party.
Some smoke, some fire in the NDA camp, too
Even the BJP-led NDA has not been without differences so far. No sooner had the alliance arrived at a seat-sharing plan than a bickering began in the camp. The members of this alliance apart from BJP are Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP) and Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM). While BJP is contesting on 160 of the 243 seats, LJP has been given 40, RLSP 23 and late entrant HAM 20.
On reports that LJP was upset with BJP over sharing of seats, party leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s son Chirag Paswan on September 15 said at an especially convened press conference: “There is no smoke without fire… We were not angry but shocked. We were taken aback because the formula agreed upon during the negotiations was different. We just want the same parameters to be applied in our case.”
Paswan junior conveyed the message that all was not well within the NDA camp. But after BJP chief Amit Shah promised that LJP’s concerns would be addressed, it seemed largely given that the coalition would not fall apart. He denied the reports that his party was upset with the number of seats Manjhi’s party had walked away with.
“Manjhi is a prominent leader and he has a key role in Bihar elections. Manjhi, Kushwaha and we are all the same family,” Chirag Paswan said. The LJP leader, though, also admitted to giving a list of leaders from Manjhi’s party against whom he and his party had reservations.
Irony of the elections and a CM vs PM battle
Bihar is known to be one of the poorest states in India. What people in the state have been looking for is development. The common man today is struggling to survive in the face of rising costs, poverty and corruption.
With that in mind, JD(U) earlier centred its campaign on the issues of development, good governance and law-and-order situation in Bihar. The party looked to target people from the lowest strata of society, the Mahadalits, besides the backward castes that make a large chunk of the state’s voters.
However, the state elections have in the run-up turned into a turf battle between Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And, the exchange of bitter verbal blows between them is only intensifying as the elections approach.
Earlier, Kumar criticised Modi and his government over several issues and alleged the latter did not keep his promise of giving Bihar the status of a special state. Modi, getting back with a special package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for the state, besides an additional Rs 40,000 crore announced at a government function in Arrah, kicked up a storm with his ‘DNA’remark. Questioning the timing of the bounty, Kumar termed this package a trick to lure voters.
On July 25, Modi attacked Kumar saying there seemed “some problem with Nitish Kumar’s DNA”, as he frequently changed his political loyalty. Kumar lashed out at Modi for this remark and termed it an insult of the people of his state. JD(U) and RJD asked the PM to take his words back and launched a ‘Shabd Wapasi’ campaign. The JD(U) government reportedly collected around 1.5 million samples of nails and hair of people from Bihar and sent those to Modi.
According to sources, the irony of this election is that neither of the alliances is talking about the real issues concerning the lives of the common man of Bihar, such as education, electricity and employment. Many say that the polls are increasingly turning into a CM vs PM war, where both have their own high stakes.
According to a pre-poll survey conducted by Zee media group, the BJP-led NDA could win a majority in the Bihar Assembly elections, a crucial test for the Narendra Modi government’s popularity 18 months after talking charge at the Centre.
The survey showed NDA winning 140 of the 243 seats. On the other hand, the grand alliance might win only 70 seats. However, the survey also showed that there could be a tight contest on the remaining 33 seats and that it was difficult to predict the winner on those.
The vote percentage factor
One of the most important parts of the Zee survey was that it showed 41.2 per cent of the state’s Muslims might vote for NDA, while the rest would favour the grand alliance. NDA could win 52.6 per cent of the Hindu votes, while 40.8 per cent Hindus would likely opt for the grand alliance. Among the Yadav community voters, considered crucial in Bihar, 47.8 per cent were expected to vote for NDA, and 47.5 per cent for the grand alliance.
Grand alliance’s take on pre-poll survey
Asked about JD(U)’s prospects in the light of the pre-poll survey, a party leader who did not wish to be named told Business Standard: “See, these surveys do not reach a wider sample to gauge a more inclusive view. So it is not right to accord much credence to them at this point. I doubt their methodology of conducting surveys. To their claim that NDA is winning this election, I would say it is too early to say. The true picture will be known on November 8.”
The filing of nomination papers for the second phase of the Bihar polls 2015, slated to be held on October 16, began on Monday, an official said. In the second phase, elections will be held in 32 of the 243 assembly constituencies. The last date for filing nominations for the second phase is September 28. While the scrutiny of papers will be held on September 29, candidates can withdraw their nominations till October 1. Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshamanan said here that the process for the five-phase assembly elections in Bihar began last week with filing of nomination papers for the first phase. The constituencies going to polls in the second phase are in Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Rohtas and Kaimur districts.
The main contest is between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance and the grand alliance of Janata Dal-United, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress.Bihar will elect a new 243-member assembly in staggered polls to be held between October 12 and November 5. The counting of votes will be held on November 8.
Earlier Nominations for first phase in Bihar polls 2015
The filing of nomination papers for the first phase of Bihar assembly polls, slated to be held on October 12, began on Wednesday, an official said. In the first phase, elections will be held in 49 of the 243 assembly constituencies. “The process for the five-phase assembly elections in Bihar has begun,” Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshamanan said here.
The last date for filing nominations for this phase is September 23. While the scrutiny of papers will be held on September 24, candidates can withdraw their nominations till September 26. The constituencies going to polls in the first phase are in 10 districts of the state — including Begusarai, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Munger, Jamui and Samastipur. The main contest is between the BJP-led NDA and the grand alliance of JD-U, RJD and the Congress. Bihar will elect a new 243-seat assembly in the staggered polls that begin on October 12 and end on November 5. The counting of votes will be held on November 8.
The toughest 57 seats that could decide who gets to rule Bihar in the next five years will go to the polls in the final round of the five-phase polls the Election Commission of India (EC) announced on Wednesday. The phase-wise elections will also be an opportunity for the more organised of the two main rival alliances to wait as long as possible before announcing their candidates.
The 57 seats, of a total of 243, are scheduled to go to polls on November 5. These are in Seemanchal and surrounding areas, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance lost substantially in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections while sweeping the rest of the state, riding the Narendra Modi wave.
At the time of Bihar Election 2015, the BJP, with its allies, Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party and Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party, lost only nine of Bihar’s 40 seats in the Lok Sabha. Six of these nine losses were in Seemanchal – Supaul, Katihar, Araria, Kishanganj, Purnia and Madhepura. These districts, along with Madhubani, Saharsa and Darbhanga, go to polls on November 5.
The word from the BJP is that on seats where it foresees a tough contest, it might wait for the rival alliance – comprising Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and Congress – to announce their list. This will help the BJP gets its caste equation right and exploit contradictions within Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Lalu Prasad’s RJD.
The BJP hopes to consolidate the inroads it made among youth of the other backward caste (OBC) votes in the Lok Sabha elections, particularly Yadavs. It could field Yadav candidates on seats where the JD(U) puts up non-Yadav OBCs. Insiders say, it could wait until the last moment before announcing candidates.
BJP strategists believe many young voters in Bihar will overcome caste loyalties to vote for PM’s message of development. Of the electorate of 66.82 million, an estimated half is below 40 years, 18 million are below 30 and 2.4 million are first-time voters.
Election in bihar 2015
The Election Commission of India on Wednesday announced a five-phase polling schedule for the 243 seats of Bihar Assembly. It said it would make all efforts to ensure communal harmony as the elections would take place during important festivals like Dussehra, Eid, Muharram, Diwali and Chhath. In a first, the electronic voting machines would also carry photographs of candidates apart from their name, name of the political party and the party symbol.
Amtek Auto Ltd is one of the largest integrated automotive component manufacturers in India with a strong global presence. The company has world class facilities in India, Europe and North America. They have significant expertise in forging, grey and ductile iron casting, gravity and high-pressure aluminum die casting and machining and sub-assembly. They also manufacture components for non-auto sectors such as the railways, specialty vehicles, aerospace, agricultural and heavy earth moving equipment. The company is headquartered in New Delhi.
The company operates in one segment, which includes Automotive Components. The company’s products and services include connecting rods assly/ piston assly, case component assemblies and forging. Their forging division has facilities in Maharashtra, Norther Capital Region and Madhya Pradesh. Automotive Machining Divison has facilities in Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra, Missouri and Witham.
Amtek Auto Ltd was incorporated in the year 1988. In the year 1993, the company initiated forging operations at Gurgaon, India. In the year 1996, they established a Machining unit at Gurgaon. In the year 1997, the company made a joint venture (JV) agreement with Benda Kogyo Japan and formed Benda Amtek Ltd at Gurgaon for manufacturing Flywheel Ring Gears.
In the year 1999, they entered into a joint venture with Ateliers de Siccardi and formed Amtek Siccardi at Manesar for manufacturing Crankshaft. In the year 2001, the company acquired auto component manufacturing firm, Wesman Halverscheidt Forgings. Also, they took over the Indsil Auto components Coimbatore (India) Ltd, a fully automated foundry with machining facilities.
In the year 2002, the company established an Iron Casting facility at Bhiwadi. They acquired 14.8% of stake in Ahmednagar Forgings for the total consideration of Rs 50 crore. In the year 2003, they further acquired 16,00,000 shares representing 20% of the voting capital in Ahmednagar Forgings Ltd by the price of Rs.34.50 per share. In July 2005, the company acquired the 70% of stake in Zelter GmbH.
In the year 2006, the company signed a strategically important 50:50 joint venture with a large Canadian blue chip Magna Power train for establishing a manufacturing facility outside Delhi, India with the aim of 2-Piece Flex Plate assemblies for automotive applications. Also, they set up a new machining facility at Dharuhera (India). They made a joint venture with Magna Powertrain for manufacturing Fractured Connecting Rod Modules and formed the company in the name of MPT Magna India Ltd.
In the year 2006, the company initiated the large scale Aluminum High Pressure Die Casting facility at Ranjangaon, Pune. In the year 2007, they established one manufacturing facility at Sanaswadi, Pune (India) for Forging, Casting and Machining.
During the year 2007-08, the company expanded their capacity of manufacturing of machined auto components from 280 lacs unit p.a. to 300 lacs unit p.a. and forging capacity from 115000 tpa to 135000 tpa. In November 2007, the company acquired one of the largest automotive precision machining companies, Triplex- Ketlon Group, which was also Amtek’s strongest competitor running close to 185 different machining lines and a multi-location presence in the UK.
In February 2008, the company signed a strategically important JV agreement with the leading American Railcar Manufacturer, American Railcar Industries, Inc. based in St. Charles, Missouri. In August 2008, the company signed a JV agreement with Form Tech Industries LLC based in Royal Oak, Michigan; to set up a state of the art manufacturing facility for manufacturing Hatebur Hot Forgings for automotive applications in India and Europe. Amtek and FormTech will take 51% & 49% stake respectively.
During the year 2008-09, the company expanded their capacity of manufacturing of machined auto components from 300 lakh unit p.a. to 305 lakh unit p.a. and aluminum casting capacity from 20,000 tpa to 30,000 tpa. Also, the company signed a strategically important JV agreement with the leading Japanese Steel Manufacturer, Sumitomo Metal Industries Limited, based in Tokyo, Japan for Production and sale of forged crankshafts for automotive applications in India. In this Joint Venture, Amtek’s stake is 50% and the rest 50% is shared by Sumitomo Metals (40%) and Sumitomo Corporation (10%).
During the year 2009-10, the company expanded their capacity of manufacturing of machined auto components from 305 lakh unit p.a. to 330 lakh unit p.a. and forgings capacity from 135,000 tpa to 165,000 tpa. In May 28, 2010, the company entered into a share purchase agreement with the existing promoters of Amtek India Ltd to acquire an aggregate of 50,720,710 fully paid up equity shares of face value of Rs 2 each representing 36.66% of the total paid up equity share capital of Amtek India Ltd.
In February 2011, Amtek Defence Technologies Ltd, a group company, entered into a joint venture agreement with Enertec Management Ltd, an Israeli corporation (the holding company of Enertec Systems 2001 Ltd) with the objective of developing and manufacturing the advanced electronic systems, test systems, simulators and electronic systems for military applications.
In March 2011, Amtek India Ltd became the subsidiary of the company as the company’s holding in Amtek India Ltd increased to 56.65%. In June 2011, the company acquired 6,900,015 equity share of Amtek India Ltd in the open market representing 4.98% of the voting right of the company. Consequently, the company’s holdings in Amtek India Ltd increased to 61.64%.