“Ant bhala to sab bhala (all’s well that ends well),” said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after a hectic Lok Sabha campaign, indicating at the day of the results, May 16. Nitish had told cabinet colleague Bijay Kumar Choudhary on the last day of campaign on Saturday in Vaishali that he had done whatever he could.
“Bas sabki tarah mujhe bhi solah ka intejar hai (Like others, I am waiting for 16),” he told reporters Tuesday.
On reaching Patna Saturday Nitish had skipped his usual ritual of relishing his favourite dosa at a Patna restaurant, because of an aching tooth. When his chopper landed at Patna airport, a leader of the BJP, an ally of Nitish’s JD(U) until a year ago, also arrived. Moving towards the gate, Nitish who had a bitter slanging match against the former ally during campaign, waved at the BJP leader.
On Sunday, Nitish caught up on some lost sleep. He also went to pay homage to former Bihar Legislative Council chairman Tarakant Jha who passed away Sunday. Jha, one of the founder members of BJP, had joined JD(U) just before the elections.
There, he came across his former deputy and BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who greeted him. Nitish nodded at him and then looked away.
On Monday evening and Tuesday, Nitish did see a bit of exit poll results. He said the “result is on May 16”.
Some JD(U) insiders are busy with constituency-wise vote mathematics. They detect signals of RJD-Congress emerging as a bigger combination in the state. “It is a close fight between RJD and BJP. Our hopes rest on seats like Purnea, Sitamarhi, Supaul, Nalanda and Madhepura. We may have benefited from three-way fights in at least half-a-dozen seats. A TV channel is giving us 10 seats in its exit poll,” said Nitish adding that RJD as prime rival would suit JD(U). The party feels it may have stopped the BJP march in Bihar, the vote split helping RJD.
JD(U) state president Basistha Narayan Singh dismissed exit poll results saying they had gone horribly wrong in the past. Some JD(U) leaders have been doing last-minute calculations on how JD(U) would have cut into votes of BJP rather than RJD. Some are wary of the surge of youth support for BJP.
“But we are not sure if the Modi factor helped them. Our gut feeling is Lalu Prasad is back with a bang,” said a JD(U) leader.
Seniors in the party do not want to discuss politics with the CM for two days. They said there was no meaning to giving him any feedback now. “EVMs will tell us everything,” said a leader close to the CM.
There were apprehensions of Nitish government getting wobbly if Narendra Modi assumes power at the Centre. Nitish summed up the party mood on Saturday when he said, “when there is no guarantee to life, why should one bother about the chair?” The party is waiting for May 16, which the BJP is looking at as “sweet 16”.