The BJP’s election strategy was predicated on three things: wooing the Yadavs, capturing the EBC votes and polarising the Hindu-Muslim votes.
Of these, the outreach to the Yadavs was most crucial and thanks to the caste’s electoral alliance with Muslims under the RJD umbrella, it also carried undertones of communal polarisation. The cow and beef comments from the BJP ranks largely emanated due to this obsession.
Apart from appointing Bhupendra Yadav as the state in-charge, the loudest signal of the BJP’s intent to win them over was party tickets to 22 Yadavs.
WATCH VIDEO: Bihar Election Results: Editors’ Take
But as the results came in, it was obvious that the plan had failed. Out of the 22, only five won.
The BJP also realised it needed the EBCs to make up the numbers along with the Yadavs. It actively reached out to the EBCs, giving away NDA tickets to caste leaders and bringing in leaders of comparable castes from outside the state to target EBC castes.
Even this didn’t work as NDA candidates belonging to EBC groups lost in constituencies like Nokha, Bettiah, Gaura Bauram, Bahadurpur and Pipra.
The last two phases, which had seats with significant Muslim population, saw aggressive communal remarks by the BJP.
But a look at 32 of the 57 seats that voted in the fifth phase showed that the NDA won only eight of them.
It did not help the BJP that its allies could manage only five seats among themselves. While the dream of Dalit consolidation behind Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitan Ram Manjhi was shattered, Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP was left facing an existential crisis with its vote base moving towards the JD(U) in what looked like a larger Kurmi consolidation.
“Such a massive mandate is not possible without the upper caste vote,” said an individual involved in preparing internal survey reports for the BJP.
Interestingly, at Benipatti where two Brahmins with the Jha second-name went head-to-head, the Congress candidate won, unseating a BJP MLA.
Despite their dislike for the RJD, the upper castes may have voted for the Congress and JDU in places where they had a better candidate than the NDA.
But do these disparate reasons when read together indicate that there was a “wave”, though undetected, in Bihar? Those who credit Nitish Kumar for the victory will have to explain why the RJD ended up becoming the single largest party. Nevertheless, the contours of that “wave” will be revealed in the days to come.