Nitish Kumar is all set to take oath as chief minister of Bihar for the seventh time, who has already served three full terms as the state's chief minister.
Fifteen years in power is a long time and leaves leaders toxic in the voters' eyes. If the voters can vote out leaders like Sheila Dixit, Raman Singh, and Shivraj Singh Chowhan, Nitish's term was also hit by a deadly pandemic and a severe flood. His popularity was plummeting, mainly due to his flip flops -from BJP to RJD and back. The results reconfirm that the anti-incumbency was not against the ruling alliance but the CM. Nitish Kumar well assessed that which showed a major climb-down in seat-sharing. It was indeed a battle for his survival.
Despite losing the votes and seats in Bihar, Nitish did survive and can save his face by retaining the Chief Minister's post, even for a while.
Big Brother BJP
As per all the ground inputs, there was an overwhelming anti-incumbency working against the sitting CM which was enough to defeat the ruling alliance. It was primarily the popularity of PM Modi that has pulled this battle through. That is why despite Bihar being mostly ready to embrace BJP as the ruling party; it has refrained from going solo.
However, PM Modi's popularity has been able to penetrate various sections in the state. The various flagship schemes of the Modi-Govt have positively affected the lives of the poor and vulnerable.
Another fascinating story emerging from this result is the performance of Mukesh Sahni's VIP and Jeetan Ram Manjhi's HAM in Bihar Assembly Elections, who shifted alliance and won four seats each, helping the NDA cross the final majority mark. It further validates that BJP has been smart and magnanimous in allowing its alliance partners to reap electoral gains seeking votes in Modi's name. Contrary to the left-liberal perception that BJP cannot manage alliances, BJP's reaching out to smaller parties has helped it expand to unforeseen territories, having made inroads into Tribals, Dalits, and OBC.
Overall, despite having fatigue with the sitting CM, the Bihari Janata showed that the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan is not suited to solve their issues. Modi's popularity, and by extension, BJP remained intact and saved NDA from a defeat with its stellar performance. By doing so, it also replaces JDU as the big brother in the state.
It is a spectacular victory for Narendra Modi in the post-Covid era.
Banking primarily on strong anti-incumbency and the hardships of migrant workers and how they were received, quarantined, and rehabilitated worked well for the opposition. It seems that the 10 lakh jobs promised by the MGB leader Tejaswi Yadav has also helped build the perception against the ruling alliance.
Tejashwi Yadav, in the absence of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar elections, put up an intense fight and single-handedly led and emerged as the single largest party. Tejasvi was also tactical in getting the Left Parties back in the MGB fold. He focused on jobs and development without directly attacking PM Modi. If these strategies were curated by Lalu Yadav sitting in the Ranchi jail, Tejaswi well-executed them on the ground and emerged the true heir apparent of Lalu Yadav.
Despite a loss, Lalu would be proud of his 31-year-old son.
The Left parties got seats under a smart seat-sharing agreement in the grand alliance, and out of 29 seats, they won 16 seats. The Left Parties were once significant in Bihar but were on the verge of extinction. Together, they won from 9 seat seats in 2005 and came down to 1 in 2010 and 3 in 2015 assembly elections. The Communists, especially the CPI (M-L) that won 12 seats alone, must be the happiest lot.
Seemanchal is a traditional RJD-Congress stronghold and is considered one of Bihar's most backward regions with a sizable Muslim population. The rabid communal campaign by Owaisi has consolidated Muslim votes in AIMIM's favour, AIMIM clinched five seats in the area. As Muslim votes got divided, it did hurt the MGB-alliance and benefitted NDA. Though it helped NDA in this election, the rise of the likes of Owaisi portends a dangerous trend in Indian politics.
The positive take from this development is that the rise of parties like AIMIM should help finish caste politics. We will have to deal with the "minority" parties directly instead of erstwhile middlemen like Congress. Excited, Owaisi would head to Bengal next.
Chirag wanted to utilise both Nitish's declining popularity and cash in on Tejashwi Yadav's failure to fill in the gap in Bihar assembly elections. So he went out of the NDA and put up candidates against JDU, protesting only against Nitish and asserting as Modi's 'Hanuman.' But, just opposite his late father's unique ability, he could not gaze at the weather. Chirag did cause severe damage to NDA (especially JDU) candidates. At some critical constituencies like Raghopur, LJP also ended up helping RJD at the cost of BJP.
BJP indeed desires to fulfil its dream of a BJP CM in Bihar. But the speculation that this was BJP's game plan to deny Nitish the top post after the election was a conspiracy theory invented in TV studios, and the results prove it. However, despite winning only a single seat, Chirag would be a happy man for cutting Nitish short, as Nitish has been relentlessly working since 2005, on how to weaken his late father's stature.
Congress a Liability:
The fatal blow for MGB came from the strategy to allocate 70 seats to Congress. The Congress brings nothing much to the MGB except old loyalty and pinning hopes on consolidating the Muslim votes, which it failed in Seemanchal. With a paltry 9.5% vote share, and success rate much lower than the left parties, Congress is inching towards its extinction as a national party.
Rahul's leadership is limited to his obsession with Narendra Modi. The only thing that Rahul does is to pick any random issue - be it China, Covid, Employment or Economy - attack and attack Modi. Even Tejasvi never directly attacked PM Modi. We just witnessed how RJD's stalwart Abdul Bari Siddiqui, who made cheap, remarks against PM Modi, also lost the election.
Across the world, leaders are biting dust or facing public ignominy over COVID. If Rahul cannot even capitalise on a pandemic and severe anti-incumbency, will he ever get another better opportunity?
How significant liability is Congress becoming for regional parties. Election after election, it is proven that any party that aligns with Congress is doing so at its peril. Absolute loser.
The Darbari Rudali
The majority of exit polls and political pundits predicted a rout for the ruling NDA in Bihar and a resounding victory for the MGB alliance and went horribly wrong. Possibly the side effects of pollsters working from home. However, it was fun watching the turmoil on the faces of these Darbaris who had been boasting over exit polls.
These alleged Experts who never correctly read the voters' mood, and even if they read it, they lie from their teeth, were expecting Tejashwi Yadav to win Bihar. Now they have made Owaisi the villain and blaming him for spilling their chance. As their master, this cabal also continuously attacked PM Modi for the insufficient measures, economic recession, and jeopardising the lives of migrants all the time. But as always, the street intelligence has trounced the predictions of these Darbaris. What sore losers!
Despite the scathing attacks, Modi's popularity remains intact. As Bihar's verdict, the story emerging out of by-polls is also as much a vindication of the BJP as it is of continued decimation of the Congress.