The fifteenth Lok Sabha elections proved to be a trend setter in many ways, foremost being a clear mandate for political stability alongside a rejection of the bullet in favor of the ballot. In Bihar particularly, apart from the defeat of a majority of the criminals, which signals a preference for development over caste affiliations, another significant development in these elections was the weakening of the political and social base of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (CPI-ML). The CPI-ML, the largest communist party in Bihar, had a support base in at least 11 of the state's 38 districts, including Bhojpur, Buxar, Jahanabad, Sasaram, Gaya, Siwan, Gopalganj, Maharajganj and Jamui. The CPI-ML had joined hands with the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) to put up candidates for 33 of the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats in an attempt to mark its presence from the state in the 15th Lok Sabha. The CPI (M-L) was an underground organization until 1992 because it had taken the path of armed struggle, which it later gave up. But combinations of these various communist organizations failed to win even a single Lok Sabha seat in Bihar. Even Ara seat, which was won by CPI-ML in 1989, was snatched by the Janata Dal-United. Many reasons can be given for the decline of the social and political base of the Maoist groups in Bihar.
First, the CPI-ML had earlier been supported by the Dalits, Koeris, and other backward castes; hence it managed to win seven seats in the State Legislature in 2005. But four years of the Nitish government in Bihar changed the election rules. It eroded the political base of CPI-ML. The entry of the BSP in Bihar has also reduced its Dalit support. Maoist groups are violent and anti-development. The vote bank of the Maoist organizations in Bihar has not changed, but many splits and mergers in these organizations have occurred. The CPI CPI-M’s vote bank has eroded due to its alliance with the CPI-ML. People in Bihar are looking for a new social cohesiveness. Communist parties went very soft on the political mismanagement of Lalu Raj, which resulted in their decline. The CPI-ML failed to lure back its traditional vote bank of Dalits and Muslims.
Second, the Maoist groups face a dilemma. Their stand vacillates from bullet to ballot. The CPI (Maoist) was formed in 2004 by merging the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). The CPI (Maoist) is a part political, part insurgent and part terrorist organization. It believes in the Maoist strategy of capturing political power using a motivated and -trained army of the impoverished rural masses.
Third, violence during the elections and killing of innocent officials is disapproved by the larger sections of the society. Maoist groups attacked in Gaya, Aurangabad and Motihari and in each election, they cynically used violence against innocent people to create a fear psychosis against casting votes. In the four decades since the first Maoist call for electoral boycott of democratic politics, the electoral processes have got deeply entrenched in the minds of people. Their calls for boycott of elections have been ignored. People show faith in the new initiatives of the Central and State governments. NREGA and other economic initiatives have linked the weaker sections of society with the state structures. Naxal outfits often target these structures. This does not go well with poor people. There is a general perception throughout Bihar, especially in the Dalit Bastia of the Naxal affected districts, that the minimum 100 days job security has changed the views of Naxal sympathizers, and renewed hopes in the government’s initiatives.
There is a clear message emerging out of the 15th Lok Sabha. Change your ways or leave the state. The Nitish formula has been very successful. Bihar is one of the most backward states in terms of human development. The social life in Bihar revolves around its villages. Data from the National Sample Survey Organization, (NASO), informs that around 90 percent of its population resides in villages. Over half the population is illiterate. Over three fourths of people secure their livelihood from agriculture and allied activities. Agriculture, on which the people of Bihar are excessively dependent in comparison to other states, is not in good shape. Ownership of landholdings is skewed. In 2003-04 about 30% of the rural households had no land to cultivate. Bihar ranks second among Indian states in terms of proportion of population below the poverty line. Bihar needs a leader who delivers. The Nitish government is the best suited for Bihar. 15 years of Lalu Raj cultivated jungle raj. It promoted Naxalites and anti-Naxal groups like the Ranveer Sena. Anti-Naxal groups have lost its appeal in the changed socio-political structure. The Maoist groups are also on the verge of losing their political base in Bihar.