PATNA: It was widely touted as a close contest, but the NaMo magic crushed the Mahagathbandhan’s dream of capturing Bihar and put Nitish Kumar, the man who once called him ‘Bahari’ (an outsider), back in the saddle for the fourth consecutive term. This would be his 7th swearing-in as CM.
The land of Sita remained loyal to the party of Rambhakts, setting aside crucial issues such as incumbency, under-development, corruption and lawlessness that weighed heavily against NDA, particularly Nitish, in the run-up to the election.
“Aant bhala to sab bhala (all’s well that ends well),” was Nitish’s parting shot at the Purnia rally on the last day of his campaigning for the third phase of polls on November 5. In the end, his words came true.
The NDA comprising BJP-JD(U)-HAM(S)-VIP crossed the 122-mark in the 243-member state assembly by winning or maintaining a substantial lead in 125 seats, as the Election Commission had not declared all the results till late Tuesday night. There was also a close fight between BJP and opposition RJD, but the Tejashwi-led party emerged as the single largest by winning or maintaining a lead on 75 seats, one more than BJP.
JD(U) also retained the Valmiki Nagar Lok Sabha seat in the byelection.
The past baggage of RJD bogged down Tejashwi despite his concerted efforts to the extent of removing even his parents from RJD posters. But Lalu Prasad’s younger son has now established himself as a leader in his own right.
The results raised a question mark on the future of LJP and its chief Chirag Paswan, who lost all but one of the 137 seats his party contested but damaged the NDA, particularly Nitish’s JD(U), in many constituencies. JD(U) state president Bashishtha Narayan Singh said people approved the development work done by the Nitish government.
On Chirag, he said some people have misunderstanding (galatfahmi) about themselves and are seen nowhere in the final count.
After losing the first phase to the Mahagathbandhan, the PM modified his campaign messaging for the rest two phases by invoking Chhatthi Maiya to raising Jai Shri Ram and Bharat Mata ki Jai slogans and reminding people of the ‘Jungle Raj’ during the regime of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, which their ‘Yuvraj’ Tejashwi would bring back if voted to power.
Nitish’s appeal to vote for NDA as this could be his last election also made an emotional impact on people in general and women, in particular, to swing the election in favour of the ruling alliance, even in the Muslim-dominated Seemanchal and Kosi regions.
It is believed that women, whose turnout was 5% more than men, proved the pollsters wrong by silently rewarding Nitish for the work done for them, be it the 50% reservation in panchayat and urban local bodies or 35% quota in state government jobs. The Centre’s freebies and sending money to them through direct benefit transfer (DBT) as well as free ration in the coronavirus period also impressed the womenfolk across all castes.
However, JD(U) lost the ‘Bare Bhai’ tag to ally BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the NDA as JD(U) could win only 43 seats, which was not even 50% of the 115 seats it contested. Though the BJP brass has declared Nitish as CM no matter what, it would be interesting to see whether the JD(U) chief springs any surprises given his track record of taking a moral stand like handing over the CM’s chair to Jitan Ram Manjhi after a crushing defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal, however, ruled out any change in his party’s stand.
The results showed polarization of votes against the aggressive support for Mahagathbandhan’s CM face in his rallies, which made the poor as well as the upper caste people apprehensive as Nitish had reminded the voters of the lawlessness by the same section of people before he established the rule of law in 2005.
The presence of Asaduddin Owaisi, in alliance with Pappu Yadav’s JAP(L), Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP and Mayawati’s BSP, cut into the RJD and Congress votes and, in some way, helped NDA in the Seemanchal and Kosi areas, considered the strongholds of Muslims and Yadavs. It was reflected in the victory of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) on five seats — Amour, Kochadhaman, Jokihat, Baisi and Bahadurgunj. Owaisi thanked the people of Seemanchal for their support and vowed to fulfil their aspirations.
This election revived the fortunes of the three Left parties, which won 16 of the 29 seats they contested. They benefited RJD and vice versa, particularly in the Magadh and Shahabad regions where the Mahagathbandhan performed well in the first phase of the three-phase polls.
But Congress proved to be the RJD’s nemesis as Tejashwi succumbed to the pressure by giving the grand old party 70 seats to contest. Congress finished with 19 seats, way behind its 2015 performance when it had bagged 27 seats in alliance with RJD and JD(U).
Among the major losers were RJD veteran Abdul Bari Siddiqui (Keoti), Plurals Party chief Pushpam Priya Choudhary (Bisfi and Bankipur), Chandrika Rai (Parsa), Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav (Madhepura) and Nitish ministers Suresh Sharma, Jai Kumar Singh (Dinara), Shailesh Kumar and Krishna Nandan Verma.
Courtesy – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/