Dealing a body blow to BJP led alliance NDA, and denting the image of PM Modi as election winner, the Mahagatbandhan of JDU-RJD-Congress scored an unimagined and unprecedented landslide victory with a clear two-thirds majority to give Nitish Kumar a third term in power. The Mahagatbandhan won 178 of the 243 seats while BJP led NDA was restricted to a paltry 58. CPI-M won 3 and Independents got 4.
Here is the final tally.
Mahagathbandhan: 178. RJD:80; JDU: 71; Congress: 27.
BJP led NDA: 58. BJP: 53; LJP: 2; RLSP:2; HAM: 1.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Sunday rose like the proverbial phoenix from his ashes as he helped script a resounding victory for the Grand Alliance in Bihar and revived the fortunes of his moribund party.
Ousted in 2005 after a 15-year stint in power, RJD was on the verge of being written off after the 2010 Assembly polls when it was restricted to a humiliating 22 seats in the 243-member Bihar House, Mr. Prasad pulled off an emphatic victory for the RJD, which was all set to emerge as the table topper.
RJD contributed nearly half the tally of the Grand Alliance, confirming that in addition to admiring development, Bihari voters vote their caste . The results give Congress, the third party in the partnership, cause for a celebration that has become all too rare: it is on track to 27 seats, almost 7seven times its 2010 tally of four.
Movers & Shakers
BJP in Shock | Bihar stunner: Unmaking of Narendra Modi’s aura confirmed
The strong caste combination that came together in the form of Mahagathbandhan, intolerance debate, lack of local leadership may all have contributed to the slide in BJP’s fortunes in the do-or-die battle.
BJP top brass were left wondering what went wrong. Party president Amit Shah had camped in Patna, Modi had put the affairs of the nation on a backburner to address close to 30 rallies (with good turnout) but the party lost miserably.
As the Grand Alliance surged ahead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Mr. Kumar to congratulate him on the poll victory.
The focus of BJP’s campaign that started on development agenda shifted to issues of beef, the occult and reservation and were a part of Modi’s speeches at rallies.
It is too early to analyze the reasons for the failure of BJP in Bihar. But then there are some factors which are quite obvious and identifiable.
Lack of leadership
After BJP’s formulae to announce chief ministerial candidate failed miserably in Delhi Assembly elections, the party went behind the Prime Minister in the 243-member Assembly election. The lack of leadership on the ground and infighting over the seat distribution led to the BJP’s loss. BJP President Amit Shah alluded to bickerings among NDA constituents. Perhaps he knew the consequences. This is also explained by his refusal to comment on election outcome before results came out on November8.
From Sushil Kumar Modi to Nand Kishore Yadav to Prem Kumar, the Bihar BJP has leaders who have emerged from the grassroots and enjoy a solid political clout, but the party failed to use their strength.
Ignoring the popular Bihari leader Shatrughan Sinha also cost the party dearly.
The party, instead, called the brigade from Delhi to campaign in the state in the last one month and tell people about various policies of the government.
The BJP repeated the same mistake that it had committed in campaigning in Delhi when it indulged in negative campaigning and name calling. From his earlier rallies in the state, Modi called RJD ‘Rojana Jungle raj ka Darr’, JDU ‘Janata Ka Daman aur Utpidan’.
He later on made Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s meeting with occulist as his poll agenda and took potshots at him. On the other hand, Nitish stuck to his development politics and countered the claims of BJP good governance (sushasan) as sham by referring to incidents of violence against women and opponents of BJP in Gujarat, and poverty in the state which is home to many of the richest businessmen.
BJP President Amit Shah’s remark that if BJP loses in Bihar t firecrackers will be burst in Pakistan al;so did not go down well with the voters.
The price of basic commodities spiraled in the last few months and the BJP had to face the ire of the common man. The price of pulses rose manifold and opposition did not miss any chance to hit out at the Modi government.
The Modi government’s failure to fulfill Lok Sabha poll promises, particularly, the one of bringing in to country black money and giving Rs 15 lakh to every citizen backfired at the party with people raising questions about the credibility of the government.
Retail toor dal prices shot up to Rs 200 per kg despite the government’s steps to boost supply and check prices. Urad too retailed high at Rs 170 per kg.
The bizarre and outlandish statements by BJP over beef did not go down well with the voters. After a 50-year-old Muslim man was killed over alleged rumors of consuming beef in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, it became a poll issue. Just a day before the fifth phase of polls, the BJP even came out with an advertisement on statements made on beef and cow.
Even after the BJP cracked the whip on its party men, they continued to stir controversy and gave a tough competition to each other by making such statements.
After Modi made the infamous DNA remark, Nitish started ‘Shabd Wapsi’ (take back your words) campaign. On July 25, while addressing the first election rally, Modi had said, “There seems to be some problem in his DNA because the DNA of democracy is not like that. In democracy you respect even your political rivals.”
In return, Nitish wrote an open letter to Modi saying it was deemed as “an insult by a large section of the people of the state and beyond” and asked him to withdraw it.
Around 50 lakh DNA samples (nails and hair) of people from Bihar were collected and dispatched to PM Modi.
With so many aspirants for the BJP ticket, trouble mounted for the party and d it led to infighting. Situation turned for worse and Amit Shah had to step in and even threatened the squabbling leaders.
No CM candidate
Failure of BJP to name a candidate for Chief Minister’s position cost the party dearly.
With Modi aggressively campaigning in the state, the election seemed to be a contest between a chief minister and a prime minister and the BJP paid a heavy price for it.
The BJP contested elections in alliance with Lok Janshakti Party, Hindustan Awam Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party but the allies were reportedly unhappy with the seat sharing. Even though the BJP gave in more seats to allies, the latter remained dissatisfied. The allies were also unhappy over the candidate selection and made their displeasure public. LJP MP Chirag Paswan was vocal in his views that ticket should not be given to certain candidates.
The statement by Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on reservation came at a wrong time and did play a major role in marring the prospects of the BJP-led NDA.
And PM Modi’s initial silence on the issue provided ammunition to Nitish-led Mahagathbandhan. The Bihar Chief Minister upped the ante claiming that Modi’s silence on the issue during his rallies suggested that the Union government was in sync with the RSS chief on the issue, evoking a fear of an end of reservation. And Nitish and Lau did not fail to take advantage of the situation.
Though the Prime Minister later made attempt to reach out to voters on the issue and claimed that it was not NDA, but the JDU that wanted to end a chunk of reservation to benefit the “other community”, it failed to convince the voters, who reposed faith in Nitish Kumar.
Sidelining of senior leaders
The BJP sidelined its senior leaders and did not let ‘Bihari Babu’ Shatrughan Sinha, veterans LK Advani and MM Joshi campaign in the polls. Sinha showed his displeasure on Twitter and appealed to voters to vote for the right person.
“Not a question of Bihari vs Bahari..but of how your own Bihari (Babu) has been treated by own people for no fault…,” Sinha had tweeted.