Late Thursday afternoon, the contrast between the images in front of the offices of three big parties on Patna’s Bir Chand Patel Path was telling. BJP and JD(U) supporters danced to drums, and there was nearly no one around the RJD office nearby. It read like the Bihar score-line: 39-1 in favour of the BJP-JD(U)-LJP.
For the RJD-led opposition alliance, the solitary victory went to the Congress — in Kishanganj seat.
The RJD, led by Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly, Tejashwi Yadav, in the absence of his father and party chief Lalu Prasad, drew a blank, as did the other alliance partners former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, former Bihar CM Jitan Manjhi’s HAM(S), seven-term Lok Sabha MP Sharad Yadav, and the newly formed Vikassheel Insan Party.
Alliance chemistry over caste maths
THE NDA’s sweep in Bihar can be attributed to a number of factors, the key ones being the Modi factor and the almost perfect synergy between allies BJP, JD(U) and LJP. In contrast, the RJD-led Grand Alliance appeared to be in disarray -— although the caste combination with leaders like Upendra Kushwaha, Jitan Ram Manjhi and Mukesh Sahni looked good on paper. In fact, the huge victory margins of BJP's Yadav leaders — Nityanand Rai from Ujiyarpur (over 2.75 lakh) and Ashok Yadav from Madhubani (over 4.5 lakh) — indicated that the party was able to draw the Yadav votes away. Through the campaign, the RJD felt the absence of its chief Lalu Prasad.
For the NDA, the result was unprecedented — the best showing since bifurcation of Jharkhand from Bihar, and a huge improvement over the already impressive tally of 32 in 2009 and 31 in 2014.
The RJD had won four seats each in 2014 and 2009, But it was not just the shellacking at the hands of the NDA but the huge margins — anything between 70,000 and 3 lakh — that will be a cause of concern.
Tejashwi clearly failed to make an impression in the absence of Lalu, with the losers’ gallery including such political heavyweights like Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Jagdanand Singh, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Meira Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, Sharad Yadav, and Misa Bharti, among others.
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Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, who had stayed away from the media through the campaign phase, said: “So many (uncharitable) remarks have been made about me, but I had decided to speak only after the people gave their verdict. Now that the verdict is out, it makes us more responsible…”
Asked whether his party will join the Union Cabinet, Nitish said that is a call for the Prime Minister to take. But there “should not be any difficulty in working together” with BJP, he added.
Tejashwi congratulated PM Narendra Modi and said, “We expect the PM to work for employment and agriculture. We will look into reasons for our defeat.”
RLSP chief Upendra Kushwaha said his party respects the public mandate, while Congress’s Patna Sahib candidate Shatrughan Sinha, who congratulated his “family friend” and the man who vanquished him, BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, said, “I have been hearing about irregularities on several seats but today is not the day to discuss that.”