More of a BJP's loss than Nitish Kumar's win (or basically Lalu Yadav's
win): BJP is paying heavily - for not relying on local leadership of Bihar
- for centralising power unnecessarily in party's central leadership - for
running a negative campaign and not focusing on development - for engaging in
war of words and below the belt comments that Lalu Yadav did with much more
efficiency the result proved.
A consolidated votebank against BJP: The anti-BJP alliance could
successfully stop swing of its votes and could consolidate them further to transfer
within the alliance. In the end, the alliance’s 44.6% vote share tells it was
miles ahead to the BJP alliance’s 34.1%. A negative and personality oriented campaign
(both by and against) did further consolidate the alliance’s votebank together.
It also showed an effective alliance based on caste equations can effectively
take on BJP if it remains intact. The OBC-Yadav-Muslim combine this time did exceedingly
well for the grand alliance while BJP’s stand on issues like reservation and
intolerance hurt its prospects deeply here.
Anti-reservation - anti-Dalit: Mohan Bhagwat's comments about
reservation, it seems, have gone deep in the psyche of masses. Even if RSS'
website prominently figures Bhagwat's clarification on his 'reservation'
remarks, the public, it seems, have refused to buy it. Another remark by the
union minister V K Singh on Dalit lynching incident of a Faridabad village,
drawing an ill-conceived 'dog' analogy, seems to have dented the prospects
Taking opposition not seriously: Now it seems so - as BJP has
emerged as the party with the largest vote share. While Nitish and Lalu focused
on ground level campaigning connecting more people - with small gatherings in
large numbers - BJP still relied on technology to reach ‘virtually’ to the
masses – that could not penetrate in the psyche of masses driven by compulsions
and preferences of an assembly election. All BJP's star campaigners were
outsiders - Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitely, Rajnath Singh - and that
seems to have backfired in a cleverly crafted and fought 'Bihari Vs Bahari'
campaign by Nitish Kumar. Most of the Bihar BJP leaders were absent even from campaign
publicity hoardings, banners and posters. The tech savvy team of Amit Shah
could not match the intensive ground level connect of Nitish Kumar and Lalu
Yadav who held over 200 rallies each.
Also, BJP had no match for
popularity of Nitish Kumar as the chief-ministerial candidate. Though Nitish
has failed to perform like he could during his first full five-year term, he
still was its undisputed development-oriented leader, and so there was no
significant anti-incumbency against him. What helped him more was the fact the
BJP was his alliance partner in the power corridors of Patna till June 2013
when Nitish broke the alliance over differences on projecting Narendra Modi as
the prime-ministerial nominee of the alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
It was like the Lok Sabha
elections in 2014 when there was no national leader to scale the popularity of Narendra
Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate on different rating scales. And it
happened so in Delhi with Arvind Kejriwal being there. But BJP could not learn
its lessons. The other assembly elections that it won or performed well after
the grand performance in the Lok Sabha elections last year had huge waves of
anti-incumbency against the ruling parties and chief-ministers – in Maharashtra,
in Jharkhand, in Haryana, in Jammu & Kashmir. Though Nitish did not emerge
as the real winner, with RJD emerging as the largest party in the Bihar
assembly with 80 seats, 9 more than Nitish’s JDU, the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance
fought the election projecting Nitish Kumar as its leader.
Too much of tolerance Vs intolerance: Yes, the debate has engulfed
the nation’s consciousness. True, we
are a tolerant nation, a resilient one. But
equally true is the fact there has been spate of intolerant activities from the
fringe groups and from the voices within the ruling party and groups associated
with it. BJP needs to think seriously
about this problem now - about its loudmouth leaders and about practices like politics
around cow and other religious notions. While the educated and middles classes
were left in bad taste about such incidents - like the government's attitude on
FTII row and Gajendra Chauhan issue, on beef politics, on cow slaughter, on
Dadri lynching, on 'Ghar Wapasi' and so on - the Muslim voters, who are around
15% in Bihar, and who could never trust BJP, ensured that they work to defeat
BJP by voting en masse, not succumbing to the agenda based campaigning by likes