NDA vs UPA+(Media) in Urban Bihar

The Bihar elections are not far away, and Congress friendly ‘secular’ media (on TV), Aam Aadmi Party jholawalas(in social media), Nitish Kumar and Laloo Yadav(on the ground) are standing in front of an NDA victory. NDA has a huge army of BJP supporters on social media, little presence on the TV media, and has been able to wean away different splinter groups apart from the usual LJP and RSLP, the chief among them being Jitan Ram Manjhi’s dissidents.

Media is going to play a role in areas where the UPA+Jholawala+Media combination is going to work to snatch away some voters who voted for NDA in 2014, thereby securing a few seats. Social media impact on Bihar elections is going to be minimum, so the responsibility on TV media is huge.

The usual help that secularists might take from TV media is to downplay Laloo, project Nitish and set the agenda to what Mr. Kumar wants. The process has started, with Nitish plunging on a social media campaign, where questions posed by Ravish Kumar seem tough, but appear to be stage managed for Nitish to answer easily. Ravish has shown his preference for politics based on caste, and has displayed a soft corner for casteist politics of people like Mayawati as well as Laloo Yadav.

Nitish realizes that NDTV in English will not win it for him with Barkha Dutt in Bihar. He needs the more rustic, more from the hinterland journalists like Ravish to influence the middle class. Ravish was also used by Arvind Kejriwal to good effect in Delhi elections, especially while covering Kiran Bedi and going out with AAP’s agenda to the voters in the migrant-dominated areas of Bihar. Ravish has shown himself to be a very efficient campaigner for the secular forces.

Who will be the target of hit-jobs this time? Laloo will not be touched, let alone embarrassed for his conviction in the fodder case. Instead, an attempt will be made to embarrass the likes of Sushil Modi. The issue of SuMo being an ‘outsider’ will also be raked up. SuMo is soft spoken and can bail himself out, but media will try and create half-baked controversies once belligerent leaders like Giriraj Singh, or maybe Ashwini Choubey start campaigning. The topiwalas and jholawalas of AAP and other elements of the far left will use foul language and disparage the Prime Minister, who still remains a big factor in the elections.

Media realizes that it is a question of a few percentage of votes, and effective polarization so that Muslims vote in blocks like they did in Delhi. A two cornered contest will make it difficult for BJP to win in many areas, but it has a big influence in urban pockets. The secular coalition realizes that the media is going to contest elections for it in urban Bihar, where it can upset the NDA applecart if a few seats turn its way. They have been asked to set the agenda.

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