In Bihar, on a lively Sunday morning, someday in early March everyone’s attention was fixated on a full front-page advertisement which appeared in almost every major Hindi and English newspaper. The advertiser wasn’t claiming to double everyone’s money in 21 days but was, rather, making an equally outrageous claim of making Bihar the most developed state in India by 2025 and to make its development level at a par with the European nation by 2030. This highly ambitious advertisement was of a freshly launched party which goes by the name of ‘Plurals’. These claims were made by the Plurals President Pushpam Priya Choudhary who also declared herself a Chief Minister candidate for the state of Bihar.
This advertisement caught the eyes of many political enthusiasts not only in Bihar but also, throughout the nation. The reason why the advertisement blew up was because the 33-years-old smiling lady in the advertisement was highly educated not even by the standards of Bihar but also by the national ones too. She has spent quite a long time studying in the United Kingdom and holds dual masters degree. In 2016, she got her masters degree from University of Sussex in Development Studies. Three years later in 2019, she finished her masters from the prestigious London School of Economics in public administration.
Such a highly educated CM face in Bihar politics which is otherwise infamous for its political candidates with excellent criminal records and disappointing educational backgrounds caught everyone’s attention. Many prominent news websites dedicated a whole article for her. Nobody in their right minds would have expected her to become the Chief Minister of Bihar without any coalition but many believed that she will be able to score something in the upcoming elections. It seemed that her educational background and her list of candidates, many of which were social activists or teachers, will appeal to the youth. If lucky, she could even get seats in double-digits. If we just consider the support she gets on social media platforms, then it surely doesn’t look like a far-fetched dream.
By now, Around 7.5 lakh people have liked her official Facebook page which is around half the number of likes on the pages of main opposition figure Tejaswi Yadav and the incumbent CM Nitish Kumar. On Twitter, her number of 1.39 lakh followers seem comparatively small but significant in front of Tejaswi Yadav who has 27 lakh followers or Nitish Kumar who is followed by 61 lakh individuals.
These all numbers signify that she has indeed appealed to the youth and might receive significant support in terms of votes. A couple of months down the lane after the famous full front page newspaper ads incident, Pushpam Priya contested for two seats of Bisfi and Bankipur in the Bihar elections. When this article was being written, the Election Commission had declared results in every constituency other than 50 in which the counting is still going on. It is unclear if in the contested seats of Pushpam Priya votes are still being counted but it is highly unlikely that the remaining votes will have a huge influence.
In the Bisfi constituency, around 1.78 lakh votes have been counted by now. BJP candidate Haribhushan Thakur is leading the poll with 86,574 votes which constitute about 48.4% of the total votes counted. Pushpam Priya 1521 votes which makes up even less than one percent of the total votes counted. Comparatively, 2929 people chose NOTA which is twice the votes given to her.
She seemed in a better state in the Bankipur constituency but overall, it was a shame. Around 1.22 lakh votes were counted out of which Pushpam Priya managed to get 4,619 which constitute around 3.8% of the total votes. This constituency was bagged by BJP candidate Nitin Nabin who managed to get about 60% of the total votes. Overall, the Plurals Party couldn’t manage to win even a single seat in the whole state of Bihar.
Now, this leaves us with two other prominent youth politicians who were constantly making headlines throughout the election period – the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) face Chirag Paswan and the main opposition face from RJD and ex-deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav.
Self-proclaimed ‘Hanuman’ of PM Modi, Chirag Paswan’s party LJP candidates contested on every seat where a JDU candidate was running. Political analysts were expecting that LJP could manage to garner a handful of seats which could, in turn, decide the CM face in case of a hung assembly. In that case, 38-years old Chirag Paswan possibly could play the role of a ‘kingmaker’ in the Bihar elections. Unfortunately for him, the LJP could only get a single seat, with no other possibilities, which doesn’t matter much in a clear BJP-JDU victory.
This leaves us with the only prominent young contender left – Tejaswi Yadav. His rallies were amassing a huge number of people which were many times as large as Nitish Kumar’s. His promise of 10 lakh jobs in his first day of the office was appealing hugely to the youth voters. Almost every prominent exit poll declared him a clear winner. But, still, when the counting of the votes stopped then, his party and its alliance members could only manage to bag 110 seats, 12 seats short of the victory mark.
At present, most of the big players of Bihar politics have roots in the movement of 1974. It was sensed that a major portion of the voters couldn’t connect with these politicians of 70+ years. But the ‘Modi wave’ seemed to drown the possibility of emergence of young faces in Bihar. If not for Modi, three young possible future CM faces of Bihar would have held their ground.