MAJOR FACTORS BEHIND JDU-RJD-CONGRESS ALLIANCE WIN IN BIHAR POLLS

More of a BJP’s loss than Nitish Kumar’s win (or basically Lalu Yadav’s win): BJP is paying heavily – for not relying on local leadership of Bihar – for centralising power unnecessarily in party’s central leadership – for running a negative campaign and not focusing on development – for engaging in war of words and below the belt comments that Lalu Yadav did with much more efficiency the result proved.

A consolidated votebank against BJP: The anti-BJP alliance could successfully stop swing of its votes and could consolidate them further to transfer within the alliance. In the end, the alliance’s 44.6% vote share tells it was miles ahead to the BJP alliance’s 34.1%. A negative and personality oriented campaign (both by and against) did further consolidate the alliance’s votebank together. It also showed an effective alliance based on caste equations can effectively take on BJP if it remains intact. The OBC-Yadav-Muslim combine this time did exceedingly well for the grand alliance while BJP’s stand on issues like reservation and intolerance hurt its prospects deeply here.

Anti-reservation – anti-Dalit: Mohan Bhagwat’s comments about reservation, it seems, have gone deep in the psyche of masses. Even if RSS’ website prominently figures Bhagwat’s clarification on his ‘reservation’ remarks, the public, it seems, have refused to buy it. Another remark by the union minister V K Singh on Dalit lynching incident of a Faridabad village, drawing an ill-conceived ‘dog’ analogy, seems to have dented the prospects further.

Taking opposition not seriously: Now it seems so – as BJP has emerged as the party with the largest vote share. While Nitish and Lalu focused on ground level campaigning connecting more people – with small gatherings in large numbers – BJP still relied on technology to reach ‘virtually’ to the masses – that could not penetrate in the psyche of masses driven by compulsions and preferences of an assembly election. All BJP’s star campaigners were outsiders – Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitely, Rajnath Singh – and that seems to have backfired in a cleverly crafted and fought ‘Bihari Vs Bahari’ campaign by Nitish Kumar. Most of the Bihar BJP leaders were absent even from campaign publicity hoardings, banners and posters. The tech savvy team of Amit Shah could not match the intensive ground level connect of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav who held over 200 rallies each.

Also, BJP had no match for popularity of Nitish Kumar as the chief-ministerial candidate. Though Nitish has failed to perform like he could during his first full five-year term, he still was its undisputed development-oriented leader, and so there was no significant anti-incumbency against him. What helped him more was the fact the BJP was his alliance partner in the power corridors of Patna till June 2013 when Nitish broke the alliance over differences on projecting Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial nominee of the alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

It was like the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 when there was no national leader to scale the popularity of Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate on different rating scales. And it happened so in Delhi with Arvind Kejriwal being there. But BJP could not learn its lessons. The other assembly elections that it won or performed well after the grand performance in the Lok Sabha elections last year had huge waves of anti-incumbency against the ruling parties and chief-ministers – in Maharashtra, in Jharkhand, in Haryana, in Jammu & Kashmir. Though Nitish did not emerge as the real winner, with RJD emerging as the largest party in the Bihar assembly with 80 seats, 9 more than Nitish’s JDU, the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance fought the election projecting Nitish Kumar as its leader.

Too much of tolerance Vs intolerance: Yes, the debate has engulfed the nation’s consciousness. True, we are a tolerant nation, a resilient one. But equally true is the fact there has been spate of intolerant activities from the fringe groups and from the voices within the ruling party and groups associated with it. BJP needs to think seriously about this problem now – about its loudmouth leaders and about practices like politics around cow and other religious notions. While the educated and middles classes were left in bad taste about such incidents – like the government’s attitude on FTII row and Gajendra Chauhan issue, on beef politics, on cow slaughter, on Dadri lynching, on ‘Ghar Wapasi’ and so on – the Muslim voters, who are around 15% in Bihar, and who could never trust BJP, ensured that they work to defeat BJP by voting en masse, not succumbing to the agenda based campaigning by likes of Owaisis.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY BJP LOST BIHAR POLLS?

AND WHAT IT TELLS ABOUT INDIA’S POLITICS IN THESE TIMES..

The second round in the political turf war between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar goes to Nitish Kumar and in an equally emphatic way as was Narendra Modi’s and BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha election last year.

BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JDU were long terms partners and shared power together in Bihar for over 8 years before Nitish parted ways in the name of ‘BJP becoming Narendra Modi’s BJP’.

It was the second election (barring bypolls) that the two political outfits fought as rivals and with this, JDU has equaled the score 1-1.

But what it tells about political state of affairs now?

Given the fact that the broad issues that the Bihar elections were pinned on revolved around caste, religion and community arithmetic, the outcome of the polls become interesting for how they would affect the further political discourse in the country on some issues doing rounds in the national consciousness.

— The poll result will, first of all, tell vehemently that the Delhi poll debacle was not an aberration but was a clear indication of things and days to come – an ominous signal which was conveniently ignored by BJP.

— The most worrying socio-political aspect of it is that the country is indeed going through a rough patch with real threat of communal and caste-based flare-ups if the fringe elements and intolerant voices are not reined in now.

— The message will be that people are not taking developments like FTII row or appointments to other institutions, JNU row, reservation policy row or the move to return national awards by eminent personalities to protest the surge in incidents of intolerance or the ongoing legacy wars to claim legacies of the political luminaries from the country’s past.

— After Delhi, the Bihar polls are again a direct testimony on BJP’s performance. The message is that the NDA government, so far, has failed to perform effectively on its promises of governance and development. BJP lost even in Jayapur in Panchayat polls, a village adopted by Narendra Modi in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. It will further reinforce the demand that people need concrete development now, not even a blueprint will do. There are valid questions even in Varanasi now where the city has seen no significant development in the last 18 months or so. Developments like making Banaras Hindu University a greater mess that it was earlier in, go squarely to the union government of BJP in Delhi.

— Narendra Modi now needs to do some serious thinking about his political branding and imagery, given the fact that the Bihar assembly election was basically a direct personal fight between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar from JDU. Nitish had left the JDU-BJP alliance in Bihar on NDA’s projection of Narendra Modi as its prime-ministerial candidate and had stepped down after JDU’s crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha election last year. Also, it is not about other BJP leaders but about Narendra Modi. People have given BJP absolute majority because of Narendra Modi and Narendra Modi will obviously be worried about his political legacy.

— We can soon see Shiv Sena walking out of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. The alliance has been in consistent controversies ever since the two old alliance partners came together again last year. Shiv Sena, the big brother-turned-humiliated-junior partner in Maharashtra is freshly recharged from its gains in Maharashtra civic polls, the first big shot post Maharashtra assembly polls in 2014, the polls in which BJP has performed poorly. The ongoing war of words between Uddhav Thakeray, the Shiv Sena chief, and Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra chief minister, may precipitate into something big soon.

— The outcome makes it mandatory for BJP to do course correction with its politics, especially in the light of the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab (2016) and Uttar Pradesh (2017) – with realizations and changed requirements post the debacle in the Bihar assembly polls.

— BJP’s alliance with SAD in Punjab is not so smooth and the party has lost every subsequent election in UP after the grand show in the Lok Sabha election in May 2014. If we go by the projections and different analytical reports so far, we can say Congress is going to win the next round of polls in Punjab and

— In UP, BJP still has no mass political leader and cadre. This is a space that the party has failed to populate so far, especially in the context that it had the grand opportunity to do so with the sky-high confidence that it got with the absolute show there in the last year’s parliamentary polls – winning 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats. And the Bihar assembly polls results tell why the party needs to focus on poll infrastructure at the ground level and development politics while effectively controlling the ‘fringe and intolerant voices’ – because once the UP is lost in 2017 – it will be a moral doom for the party to make a comeback in the 2019 parliamentary polls.

— And that goes with the socio-political imperative of the day that there will be more protests and intensified attacks on BJP and the NDA government on ‘politics around cow and religion’ about these ‘fringe voices spewing venom of intolerance in an otherwise resiliently tolerant Indian society’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/