Patna, 25 August: The ‘grand alliance’ of the Congress, JD(U) and RJS has dealt a severe blow to the BJP’s aspirations to make a comeback in Bihar, capturing six of the 10 seats in the assembly by-polls that were widely publicized as a ‘semi final’ ahead of next year’s state polls. The result is a bigger setback for the BJP given the fact that barely three months ago, the NDA rode the Modi wave to make a clean sweep in Bihar.
No acche din for BJP in Bihar bypolls: Lalu-Nitish profit from anger at Modi
Image from IBNlive
The stakes were quite high for the BJP, given that it had won six out of the 10 seats in the last assembly polls. In this by-poll, the result was reversed. The BJP never looked like it was going to win, and were trailing in the race right from the beginning.Although the by-polls were held for only 10 seats, much significance was attached to these elections.At stake was Modi’s continued popularity in the state versus the new friendship between two arch-rivals Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar, who joined hands against the BJP after two decades. And the result has provided enough hints about what the state’s populace prefer.
No doubt the RJD, JD-U and the Congress faced the severest challenge to prove their reliance in today’s politics after being forced to join hands. But it was, in fact, the BJP whose popularity and policy was at test in these by-polls. The party undoubtedly had the toughest task, which was to keep the voters who had solidly voted for the NDA alliance in the Lok Sabha polls. And if the result is any indication, they have their work cut out for them, because the Modi wave looks like it is fast receding.
Soon after the Modi government had come to power in New Delhi, there was a lot of euphoria among the general masses in Bihar. They had hoped inflation would come down, that there would be an immediate check on the prices of essential commodities, and there would be no hike in the prices of petroleum products and railway fares.
But the Modi government’s decision to hike fuel and train fares apparently came as a shock.
“The result shows the general masses have lost faith in the Modi government as they feel cheated by the new government at the centre and are now polarizing in favour of the alliance. This is the reaction of the masses when the Modi government has completed 90 days in office while the grand alliance is only 27 days old”, said senior RJD leader Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha.
Quite apart from a judgement on the brand new Modi sarkar, the by-polls were also being perceived as a referendum of sorts on the new friendship between RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar who buried the hatchet after a gap of 20 years and also campaigned together to defeat a surging BJP. The Congress was brought into the alliance later on.
Just about everyone doubted the success of the new alliance.
From the relatively small crowds that turned up for the election rallies to the smaller voter turnouts, the signs were seen as far from encouraging at most of the polling booths.
But the polls results have come as big moral boost to the brand new alliance.
That the Lalu-Nitish friendship was giving a very tough challenge to the BJP was underlined by the fact that it was attacked by everyone from state leaders to the party President.
While Shah accused Nitish of sitting in Lalu’s lap in his lust for power, the state party leaders had termed the alliance as a ‘Maha-thag-bandhan’ (a grand alliance of cheats), instead of a Maha-gath-bandhan (grand alliance).
The major reason why the alliance made such a terrific comeback in the elections is said to be the fact that ‘secular’ anti-BJP votes were not split among parties the way they were in the Lok Sabha elections. Observers say while the Muslim voters solidly voted in favour of the alliance, the backward and Dalit voters appeared to also be slowly uniting behind it.
The margin of victory is an indication in itself. At least four candidates from the secular alliance – Parbatta (JD-U), Mohiuddinagar, Chapra (both RJD) and Bagalpur (Congress) seats – won with large margins even though the polling percentage was not so encouraging.
In sharp contrast to them, the BJP candidates won their seats with much smaller margins, which should be seen as an indication of the anger of the people.