RJD chief Tejashwi Yadav’s questioning of the verdict after an election that the Yadav-led Mahagathbandhan fought spiritedly and lost narrowly, makes him look like a sore loser. The NDA won 0.1 per cent votes and 15 seats more than the Mahagathbandhan in the 243-seat assembly. Elections can be won and lost with narrow margins — famously, in the 2008 Rajasthan assembly elections that the Congress won, its state chief, C P Joshi, lost his seat by a single vote. Yadav would do well to take a leaf out of Joshi’s book, who gracefully accepted the defeat, instead of casting doubts on the Election Commission’s conduct of the poll exercise and summoning spectres of a stolen election.
Yadav’s contention that the MGB was robbed of a win, and that the results would have been different but for the large number of postal ballots that were declared illegal, is not borne out by facts. In the Hilsa seat, which the RJD candidate lost by 12 votes, and the number of postal ballots rejected was 182, the EC accepted the request for a recount of postal ballots. In another 10 seats, where the victory margins were less than a thousand votes but higher than the invalid postal ballots, four seats were won by NDA candidates and the MGB won four. The fact is that the EC has conducted a free and fair electoral exercise which also saw a large turnout despite the extraordinary circumstances created by a public health emergency.
The disappointment in the RJD ranks is understandable. The MGB, enthused by the exit polls, was expecting to notch an easy win. Yet, even though he was not able to seize the several discontents against the Nitish Kumar government and carve out a victory, Tejashwi Yadav has made a political mark. Through his energetic campaign, he succeeded in drawing the nation’s attention and has emerged as a leader to watch. He has also made a beginning towards reinventing the RJD, which has been labelled as the Muslim-Yadav outfit, as a party with a more encompassing agenda and slogan, one that pitches a wider political tent. Yadav should now build on these substantial gains and prepare to be the effective and vigilant opposition that people of Bihar can count on to keep their government on its toes.