So, Nitish Kumar is running the show
again. On November 20, riding on the electoral sweep made by his alliance with
RJD and Congress, he was sworn in again, as Bihar’s chief minister for the 5th
But, is he running the show this
Is he going to run the show this
Between 2005 and 2015, water has
consistently flown in the Ganga by Patna, Bihar’s capital city and the seat of
power and the latest assembly poll results show its pace has been quite chaotic,
quite unpredictable. A look at the post-election trends of 2010 and 2015 bares
The power corridors of Patna draw
strength from the rural hinterlands of Bihar and those hinterlands have
rechristened Lalu Prasad Yadav again as the king and the kingmaker of Bihar’s
politics with his party RJD emerging as the largest political party in the 243
members strong Bihar Assembly with 80 seats. Nitish Kumar’s JDU, the undisputed
leader in the state’s politics since 2005, has been forced to the number 2 spot
with 71 seats.
Here it doesn’t matter, for this
analysis, if JDU and BJP won 124 seats together, commanding a vote share of
over 41% - even if it going to hurt JDU now and may even cause new equations to
emerge in the days to come.
Let’s put aside the arithmetic of
seat sharing of different alliances in these polls and see the projection of
vote shares – because JDU was always in alliances – first it was a long one
with BJP that it formed to oust Lalu’s RJD from Bihar – and now with the same
RJD – and that speaks a lot.
In the last assembly polls in
Bihar in 2010, JDU had contested on 141 seats winning 115 with a vote share of
22.58%. RJD, which had gone for 168 seats, was restricted to just 22 seats in
the assembly with a vote share of 18.84%.
JDU and RJD, both together in alliance
now, fought on 101 seats each, way below the 141 mark of JDU and 168 of RJD in
2010. Obviously, they have been helped by synergies in ‘votebanks’ and a
negative campaign by BJP.
But, symbolically, what we need
to consider here is tale involved in the figures and how the subsequent events
have started unfolding thereafter.
RJD won 80 out of 101 seats it
fought with a vote share of 18.4%, more or less similar to the numeric strength
of the last time – a more than significant gain in number of seats from the
last time – especially when we see that we all had started writing political
obituary of Lalu Yadav and RJD after Lalu was convicted in the fodder scam and
was barred from any electoral process or political office.
JDU won 71 seats with 16.8% vote
share, coming to a second in terms of number of seats while third in cornering
votes - while it bagged top spots in both in 2010.
So, JDU is down by 6% in vote
share and is almost reduced to half in number of seats – from its 2010 tally.
Political analysts may go to the
finer details like number of seats fought then and now and the subsequent trends
in the vote shares, but what is also a bare reality that, symbolically, the
results should bring down the morale of the JDU workers (and of Nitish Kumar)
as we live in a country where elections are still fought on perceptions and are
driven by impulsive considerations.
Nitish Kumar who emerged as the
most preferred political personality of Bihar in 2005 did so by targeting his
politics and campaign on Lalu-Rabri Devi’s rule of 15 years which he termed ‘jungleraj’.
Now, Nitish Kumar stands dwarfed
by the same Lalu Yadav and his RJD – the big brother in his government in Patna
It may be said that the
JDU-RJD-Congress alliance fought the polls in the name of Nitish Kumar who was
the alliance’s chief-ministerial nominee and so he should be given credit to this
sweeping electoral mandate of the alliance he stitched.
But numbers and trends post
assembly election results pose some serious questions that only time will
We know JDU’s party cadre and organizational
strength is very week in Bihar and so far, before these assembly polls and the
Lok Sabha election last year, had driven the show on BJP’s shoulders, the party
with the largest vote share this time.
These results should serve as the
warning signals for Nitish – for his party’s organizational structure in the
state and for his political career that is now dependent on Lalu – and that
makes Nitish the real loser in all this.
And it seems the process has
started on not a welcome step.
Though, it is said Nitish has
started on a tough note by ordering bureaucrats to bring back the state on a
high pedestal of law and order immediately like it was earlier during his
tenure, the other portfolio allocations raise questions.
To ensure smooth running of
administration, Nitish has kept the home department and the general
administration with himself. But what about appointments of Lalu’s sons as
Lalu’s both sons are politically naïve
and socially inexperienced. Coronation of a 26 year old deputy CM, i.e., Lalu’s
son Tejaswi, tells Lalu has started exacting his price. The two most important
sectors of Bihar, that Nitish is known to have worked on, i.e., roads and
health care, are now with Lalu’s sons. Finance is also with RJD.
Yes, being a senior partner with greater
numbers, Lalu’s party needed a respectable share. But had it been for a changed
Lalu who would be looking for a long-term political future for his sons, this
decision would not have been here. His sons could have been given other less
significant ministerial portfolios to gain experience first. But, it seems Lalu
has prevailed in his trademark way of politics, keeping interests of his family
first, like the way he made Rabri Devi CM in 1997.
And if it is so, it is not going
to stop here!
So, it is a rough start we should
say and it is going to be a difficult ride with many tides – something that we
all can expect by the precedent so far.