BJP SWEPT AWAY AS LALU HELPS NITISH EARN A HAT-TRICK
Though many were expecting Bihar to be a close contest after a bitterly fought campaign, with leader from both camps often indulging in 'inappropriate' language and even going below the belt on some occasions, the people of India's third most populous state have delivered a resounding verdict, choosing the 'Mahaghatbandhan' led by by their incumbent CM Nitish Kumar over PM Narendra Modi's NDA. In many ways, it was a fairy tale come back for the JD-U chief; after a series of blunders that threatened to jeopardize his political career altogether, he has 'risen' from the ashes, beating the PM with whom, he has had some scores to settle with. While Kumar is all set to retain the chair of the CM, the 'Man of the Series' is certainly Lalu Prasad Yadav. The former Bihar CM who was once Nitish's staunchest rival is in my opinion, one of the biggest factors responsible for the 'grand' victory of the mega alliance. For the BJP and its allies though, the results have been crushing; saying that the NDA 'lost' the polls would be a massive under statement since they have been 'routed' with the regional front winning thrice as many seats as the BJP led coalition.
The highlight of the Bihar state polls 2015 for me has been the manner in which Nitish, Lalu and most importantly, the cadre of the two parties have resolved the bitter differences that existed amongst them in the past and literally blown away the BJP and its allies. While there is no doubt that this was an alliance to retain their political significance, the JD-U chief and the RJD supremo must be credited for sticking together in spite of varying styles of functioning and reaching consensus on all important issues including the post of CM, seat sharing arrangement, campaign strategy et all. Though there were some murmurs of dissent within their ranks initially, the cadre too seem to have worked. Remarkably, the regional front even managed to transfer their respective vote banks to candidates of the alliance across the state. The electoral campaign of the grand alliance was pretty simple. While the soft-spoken Nitish Kumar harped on the development bandwagon, the more 'brash' Lalu took on the hard line, hitting out at the PM and his aide Amit Shah at regular intervals. Of course, the many blunders from the saffron camp including the failure to project a local leader, the beef controversy and the 'unwarranted' statements regarding reservations made by the RSS chief only gave more ammunition to the regional players.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) finished as the single largest party in the state assembly, winning 80 of the 101 seats it contested, its best tally in over a decade. The Janata Dal - United (JD-U) finished with a tally of 71 whereas the Congress seems to have been a big beneficiary of the verdict. The INC won nearly 70% of the total seats it contested.
For the BJP, its dream of a saffron government in Patna was crashed after its alliance finished with a paltry tally of 58 seats. The fact remains that in spite of the NDA's superlative performance in the 2014 General Elections, the saffron outfit was always the 'underdog' considering that the two regional parties had joined hands to counter it. The BJP tried to counter this by roping in the PM to address over 30 rallies in the state and roping in JD-U rebel and former CM Manjhi with an eye on the Extremely Backward Class votes. However, a spate of errors on its part, some of which I have already recounted above cost it dearly. Some of the leaders of the party or belonging to its affiliates only made the matters worse by raking up communal and casteist sentiments further strengthening the anti-NDA votes. Spoilers like the AIMIM, the SP and the NCP failed to make any considerable dent in the Opposition's tally. Moreover, Nitish's record as a 'capable' CM and the lack of any substantial anti-incumbency on the ground meant that the BJP was wiped off Bihar.
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