Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023 | Last Update : 01:25 AM IST

  India   Bihar results: Nitish's alliance wins with Lalu's grand show

Bihar results: Nitish's alliance wins with Lalu's grand show

Published : Nov 8, 2015, 4:14 pm IST
Updated : Nov 8, 2015, 4:14 pm IST

Win for Nitish will propel him as an anti-BJP force at the national level

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav (Photo: PTI)

Win for Nitish will propel him as an anti-BJP force at the national level

Patna: The JD(U)-led grand alliance decimated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s NDA in the Bihar elections on Sunday, sending out a clear message that the language of development must be clean and not interspersed with metaphors of divisiveness.

The alliance, led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is all set to get two-thirds majority in the 243-member Assembly and may even notch up 180-odd seats. A win for the grand alliance will strengthen Nitish politically and he might well emerge as an anti-BJP force at the national level. On the rival side, the NDA alliance of the BJP, the Lok Janshakti Party, the RLSP and the HAM is looking to get near 60 seats.

It is now evident that ally RJD, headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav, has more than helped the grand alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress get these numbers. RJD has emerged as a senior partner in this mahagathbandhan, winning just a few seats short of JD(U). Nitish positioned himself as the face of a national alternative to the NDA. "The Bihar elections were keenly watched by India. Everybody called me after our win. We have been able to provide a strong alternative to the Centre," he told the media in a joint address with Lalu Prasad. Allaying fears about how the once arch rivals would work in harmony, he said: "This mandate is for our alliance. We shall work together with positivity." He talked all-inclusive development for the people of Bihar, stating this win was necessary for Bihar's self-respect, its feelings and its people. "Bihar will move ahead at great speed now," he said. The RJD chief grandly announced that Nitish would continue as chief minister while he would tour the country to create a discourse against Narendra Modi. "The Bihar results will have far-flung effects on national politics," he said. He also said he would start his fieldwork from Modi's constituency Varanasi, and check with his lantern (the party symbol) what work has been done in that city.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conceded defeat in the Bihar elections, in a major blow for the man who fronted a no-holds barred campaign.

"Had a telephone conversation with Shri @NitishKumar & congratulated him on the victory," Modi said on Twitter of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Modi turned the Bihar poll into a key test of his popularity, addressing some 30 campaign rallies and promising voters billions for development.

The premier's defeat was also a setback to his plans to push major economic reforms through Parliament where the BJP lacks a majority in the Upper House.

In the last assembly polls in 2010, the JDU had won 115 seats while BJP won in 91 when both parties had an alliance. RJD had got 24 and Congress 5, contesting separately.

Modi was up against the unlikely alliance of Nitish Kumar and his predecessor Lalu Prasad Yadav this time. As the contest tightened in recent weeks, the campaign shifted to bitter issues along religious and caste lines which have traditionally dominated Bihar.

BJP spokesman GVL Narsimha Rao denied the loss was a personal blow for Modi, saying the odds were stacked against their party after regional rivals joined forces.

"This election was loaded against us. It is a defeat of the arithmetic," Rao told India Today TV.

"Our PM has delivered even in this election. It is because of his appeal that we managed a creditable performance," Rao said.

The BJP needed a win after suffering a humiliating defeat in February elections for the New Delhi state Assembly to the fledgling anti-corruption party AAP.

But exit polls released last week showed the parties running neck and neck, after voting ended on Thursday in the election held in five phases over a month.

Modi stormed to power in May last year promising sweeping reforms to revive the faltering economy. While growth is now purring along at around seven percent, complaints have been mounting about Modi's failure to nail down major reforms to boost investment and help create jobs for tens of millions of young people.

Some observers say Modi has put off pushing through contentious reforms ahead of the Bihar and other state polls for fear of losing votes, such as the land acquisition bill to make it easier for firms to buy farmland.

The Bihar campaign has been dogged by religious tensions. Analysts said Muslims, who make up 16 percent of Bihar's population, voted against the BJP, along with lower castes in India's age-old social hierarchy, who sided with traditional allies Kumar and Yadav.

The BJP's Parliamentary Board is likely to meet tomorrow to analyse the poll results in Bihar where the JD(U)-RJD combine has outshone the party-led NDA. According to sources, the board is likely to examine all factors leading to the party's below-par performance against the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance. Party leader and Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav said it was for the top brass to analyse and introspect the reasons behind these results.

Ahead of counting, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his political partner Lalu Prasad Yadav exuded confidence that they would pull through. "I am not nervous at all since I have done this many times," said Nitish, while Lalu Prasad beamed a "Good Morning, We are winning" to reporters, saying he had "had a very good night's sleep". The usual political banter continued from the other side with one BJP leader quipping whether Lalu should not say a "Good Night".

The Election Commission had lauded the "historic" turnout in the state these elections. It has been over two decades since voting has been so heavy, it said. The Nitish camp believed such a large turnout would only mean there was no anti-incumbency against the chief minister who was seeking a third term. But whether voters will appreciate him too much for reviving the fortunes of Lalu Prasad Yadav, remains to be seen. Votes were locked in 62,780 EVMs with 14,580 officials on duty for the counting process in Patna and other districts, officials said. The fate of 3,450 candidates, including 272 women, will be decided during the day. The five-phase elections started on October 12 and ended on November 5.

The BJP banked on its usual agenda of youth and development though the bitter campaign this past month has also brought up mandal, kamandal, beef, reservation, Pakistan crackers and DNA.

The speed and virulence with which the mud flew during campaigning meant no side was ready to leave anything to chance.

The BJP was also on tenterhooks on whether its partners Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP and Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awami Morcha would be able to pull their weight. They didn't.

Location: India, Bihar, Patna