10 lessons from Bihar election results
Bihar has spoken. Proving the poll pundits completely wrong, voters in Bihar voted in the favour of returning the reins of the state into the hands of the National Democratic Alliance. Margins were tight in the counting of votes which went on till way past midnight. The Mahagathbandhan fought, but fell short, a little too short. Here are 10 things that we learnt from the Bihar mandate.
Patna: Bihar has spoken. Proving the poll pundits completely wrong, voters in Bihar voted in the favour of returning the reins of the state into the hands of the National Democratic Alliance. Margins were tight in the counting of votes which went on till way past midnight. The Mahagathbandhan fought, but fell short, a little too short. Here are 10 things that we learnt from the Bihar mandate.
* Anti-incumbency: The overarching narrative revolved around the anti-incumbency that Nitish Kumar was facing after being at the helm of the state for 15 years, barring a brief period in 2014. In at least two of his election rallies, Kumar faced outbursts from the public -- once when slogans were shouted in support of RJD, and on another occasion when onions were hurled at him. The apprehension around him was also seen when for the first time during state elections he shared a stage with Narendra Modi, a leader he once refused to work with. Having successfully pitched his “sushashan”, or good governance, plank in three successive elections, Kumar seemed to have hit a roadblock this time but managed to sail through with BJP's help.
* Congress flop show: The Congress has emerged as the weak link in the Tejashwi Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan's fight against the JD(U)-BJP alliance in the Bihar assembly elections. Every party showed a better strike rate than the Congress, which was in fourth place among the major parties and thus even denied RJD the success for which it fought hard. It's time for the Congress to contemplate the future course of action before it ends up sinking in the political quagmire.
* Left resurgence: In 2015, the Left had very nearly been wiped off Bihar's electoral map. This time, the three Left parties — CPI(ML), CPM and CPI — have won 16 seats. The significance of this feat is that now after West Bengal and Kerala, Bihar will have the largest Left representation in any state Assembly. The Left parties had contested on 29 seats as part of the RJD-led opposition alliance.
* Vote share: The difference between the BJP and the RJD in terms of number of seats is just 1. However, a look at the vote share received by each party shows the extent to which Congress damaged Rashtriya Janata Dal's battle. The RJD received a mammoth 23% share of the total votes polled followed by the BJP which received 19.5% votes. Here's the glaring statistic. Parties in the 'Others' category combined had more vote share (18.8%) than the Congress which had a mere 9.5% votes.
* RJD biggest party: With 75 seats the RJD emerged as the single-largest party. However as many viewed, the Congress was the reason for the opposition's failure to go all the way, as they contested 70 seats but won only 19. This in turn denied the crown to RJD’s CM candidate Tejashwi Yadav.
* Role reversal in NDA?: Till yesterday morning, Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United enjoyed the senior partner status in the NDA government on account of its seats. By evening, the staus had changed head over heels as the BJP zoomed ahead of its the JD-U. The BJP has never held the chief minister’s post in the state. We will have to wait and see what the future holds in store for Nitish Kumar.
* Chirag Paswan factor: The election highlighted growing fissures within the NDA relationship. LJP's decision to break away from the NDA was always going to hurt the alliance. But more than damage in terms of seats, Chirag Paswan's move cut deep into the votes of Nitish Kumar. Chirag wanted to hurt Nitish and make him vacate the CM post. Even though he did dent the NDA vote, kingmaker he could never be.
* AIMIM factor: Apart from the good showing by the Left parties and the eight seats won by smaller NDA allies, the other winner was Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM which claimed five seats. When asked if it was still feasible for the opposition to form the government and whether he would aid such efforts, he said: "We will decide who to support only after the last vote is counted. We believe in supporting only a truly secular party".
* Women drove NDA surge: Women seem to have played a pivotal role in ensuring the victory of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar assembly elections. A number of analysis showed that the NDA has a decisive edge over the Mahagathbandhan in assembly constituencies where women voters outnumbered men. Data from the Election Commission of India shows that women do not outnumber men among registered electors in any of Bihar’s 243 ACs. But there are 118 ACs where the number of women voters this year was higher than men voters. This is because voter turnout was higher among women.
* Modi rally push factor: Campaigning for the Bihar polls was fierce and unrelenting, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and Yogi Adityanath (his UP counterpart) and BJP President JP Nadda among the big names in action for the NDA. The Modi wave clearly worked as the saffron party won big in regions where the Prime Minister held his rallies.