The politics of cutting votes has emerged as a major strategy for winning polls in Bihar with both the ruling and the opposition parties focusing on how to cut votes of their opponents.
This ‘vote katwa’ politics has significantly elevated the importance of smaller parties in the state, especially after the Gopalganj bypoll, and the same strategy would likely to be replicated in Kurhani Assembly bypoll and probably in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as well.
The talks about ‘vote katwa’ politics gained momentum after BJP leaders started claiming that the candidate of VIP Nilabh Kumar will help JD-U’s Manoj Kushwaha by cutting the upper caste vote of BJP in Kurhani.
On the hand, JD-U leaders are claiming that the AIMIM candidate Gulam Murtaza will help BJP candidate Kedar Gupta by cutting the JD-U’s Muslim vote bank.
The political situation in Kurhani is getting intense now with focus being shifted to who would turn stronger ‘vote katwa’.
In the 2020 assembly election, Kedar Gupta of BJP lost the election with just 712 votes to RJD candidate Anil Sahani. At that time, Ram Babu Singh of then Upendra Kushwaha-led Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) turned out to be a ‘vote katwa’ for him. Singh obtained 10,000 odd votes with majority of the voters who supported him from Kushwaha community. BJP was then with Nitish Kumar but the former did not get advantage of it and its candidate lost the election with a thin margin of just 712 votes.
In the recently concluded Gopalganj bypoll, the RJD candidate Mohan Gupta lost the contest with a margin of just 1,794 votes to BJP’s Kusum Devi. In the byelection, AIMIM candidate Abdul Salam and BSP candidate Indira Yadav turned out to be the ‘vote katwas’ for Gupta by obtaining 12,000 and 8,800 odd votes respectively. They allgedly cut the votes of Muslims and Yadavs – the core vote bank of RJD in Bihar.