The results of the just concluded Bihar Legislative Council signalled a shift in the state’s Upper House, with the NDA partners winning fewer seats than in 2015, when elections were last held, and the RJD emerging as the second largest party.
This year, elections were held for 24 MLA seats in the 75-strong Council. The NDA won 13 seats — seven for the BJP five for the JD(U). The Rashtriya Lok Janshakti Party of Union Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras got one seat; Independents, some of whom were rebels, won four seats; and the Congress won one.
The big gainer was the RJD led by Tejashwi Yadav, who won six seats, one short of the BJP, and ended up being the second largest party though it had fought on 23 seats. In the last election, the RJD had won only two of these seats.
On Saturday, a day after the results were declared, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed surprise at the defeat of some NDA candidates but put up a brave face, saying that while the NDA tally in the Upper House will fall, it was “not a cause of worry”.
But the fact that his party had ended up third will test the JD(U)’s already edgy relationship with ally BJP.
Within the ruling alliance, the BJP has the upper hand as it won seven of the 11 seats it contested, with a strike rate of more than 60%, while partner JD(U) won only five seats of the 12 it contested — a strike rate of less than 50%.
What’s significant is that the BJP and JD(U) together held 20 of these seats in the 2015 election – eight more than their combined tally now. The BJP had then won12 seats, while the JD(U) had bagged eight. The RJD could then win only two seats.
However, the JD(U) and the BJP were not in alliance in 2015, a fact that Kumar himself later pointed out. “BJP did well when we were in a different alliance. So these things do happen,” he was quoted as saying by the PTI. The JD(U) had contested the 2015 elections as part of the Mahagathbandhan, in alliance with the RJD.
Polling for the 24 seats were held on Monday. Nearly 1.32 lakh voters decided the fate of 185 candidates across 534 polling booths. The 24 MLC seats had fallen vacant in July last year, but the elections had to be put off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Five of the seats fell vacant before the expiry of the term, owing to deaths of MLCs or their elections to the Assembly.