#BiharResults: How Vikas Purush & Comeback Prasad trumped Jumla Saheb
The Bihar Assembly election was a battle of personalities. For Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the aim was establishing their complete domination over the political landscape.
For Nitish Kumar, it was a battle for pride. He had placed his political survival on the line by breaking his alliance with the BJP in 2013. Many wrote his political obituaries after the JD(U)'s decimation in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and his error of making Jitan Ram Manjhi the chief minister of Bihar.
For Lalu Prasad, it was a question of survival. He had been out of power in Bihar since 2005. Another defeat would have meant the end of the road for him and a bleak future for his political heirs.
Jitan Ram Manjhi's aim was revenge against Nitish for removing him from the chief minister's chair. He presented this as an insult to the entire Mahadalit community.
The Congress's aims were more humble. Their only aim was to remain relevant in the Hindi heartland, where they were completely wiped out during the Lok Sabha elections.
And finally the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh backed the BJP to the hilt by deploying its cadres. The main question was how far its Ashwamedha horse of communal polarisation could go.
Now that the results are out, let us see how the various dramatis personae fared:
Across Bihar, there was hardly a single person who felt that Nitish hadn't performed as the chief minister. Even BJP supporters acknowledged the work he had done, though they added a caveat that the alliance with Lalu Prasad undermined all his achievements.
The victory will put an end to all the criticism of Nitish controversial decisions, such as breaking the alliance with the BJP and joining hands with arch rival Lalu Prasad.
Since the BJP made the election a Narendra Modi versus Nitish Kumar battle, the victory in Bihar automatically catapult Nitish as the PM's rival number one in national politics.
Perhaps it is a little too early to speculate, but a good performance in his fourth term as Bihar CM could make Nitish a probable challenger to Modi in 2019.
What a comeback it has been for Lalu Prasad. After his conviction in the fodder scam and the RJD's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections, Lalu was being dismissed as a politician past his expiry date or a caricature of his former self.
Lalu is by far the biggest winner in this election. The RJD has emerged as the single largest party in the Bihar Assembly, winning 80 seats out of 101 notching up a phenomenal strike rate. It did better than it's alliance partner both in terms of the number of seats as well as the vote share. And now the RJD is back in power in Bihar after a decade.
If Nitish Kumar provided the Mahagathbandhan its face and brand value, Lalu provided the numbers. His Muslim-Yadav votebank - which constitutes over 30% of Bihar's electorate - acted as the backbone of the Mahagathbandhan.
Nitish Kumar was down in the dumps last year. Now he might challenge Modi in 2019
He set aside ego hassles and played an effective second fiddle to Nitish, who was his junior in the Janata Dal. Of course, his success doesn't mean that the people of Bihar want a return to the Jungle Raj associated with his tenure.
Lalu has already gone on the offensive by announcing that he would go to Modi's constituency Varanasi with a lantern to look for development. Modi better watch out.
This electoral triumph wouldn't have been possible without the brilliant spin-doctoring by Prashant Kishore and his team. Nitish was down in the dumps after the humiliation in the Lok Sabha elections and the Jitan Ram Manjhi fiasco. It was Kishore and his team who revived Nitish as a brand.
Even his alliance with Lalu was a challenge from the point of view of branding, given that Nitish's USP had been his opposition to Lalu's jungle raj.
Kishore and his team were on top of their game from the beginning - from the jingle "Phir say Nitishay" to the yellow banners that were dotted across the state.
After two successes - the Lok Sabha elections for Modi and now Nitish's victory - Kishore has already bagged his next assignment in Tanzania.
BJP's sulking brigade
Bihar babu Shatrughan Sinha criticised the BJP leadership throughout the elections strengthening Nitish's "Bihari vs Bahari" pitch. Sinha was quick to declare the Mahagathbandhan's victory as a "triumph of democracy".
Though he was sidelined by the party almost to the level of humiliation, Sinha would have the last laugh. The BJP has fared poorly in a number of seats in Patna, which is Sinha's area of influence.
Another leader who might be secretly celebrating is Arrah MP RK Singh, who slammed the party for giving tickets to criminals. Like Sinha, Singh too was kept away from the party campaign.
It is possible that some action might be taken against Sinha, if not Singh as well. Already BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao slammed the two leaders for "betraying the party".
Sidelined BJP patriarch LK Advani celebrated his 89th birthday on the day of the results. Many say it must've been a happy birthday for him indeed.
The elections have finally brought some good news to the beleaguered Grand Old Party. The relief was evident in the face of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Addressing a press conference, he hailed the results as a "victory of the politics of love and tolerance over hatred".
Riding high on the alliance, the party's tally has jumped by over 6 times: from 4 in 2010 to 27.
The party could finally go for its long overdue organisational overhaul, riding the crest of the Bihar victory.
The CPI(ML)(Liberation) came out of nowhere and turned in a stellar performance by winning three seats: Balrampur, Darauli and Tarari. This is more than the tally of BJP allies RLSP, HAM(S) and LJP.
True to his style, the Prime Minister made the election about himself. The BJP didn't declare its CM candidate and its only face was Modi.
The PM himself addressed 29 rallies in the state, the most by him in any state election.
Even though BJP spokespersons are desperately trying to shield him from the blame, the result is a huge embarrassment for the PM.
The BJP will finally be faced with the fact that the Modi card is subject to the law of diminishing returns. The BJP's vote share has been decreasing across the country. This was the case even in states that it won, such as Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
This year has been particularly bad for the party, given the debacle in Delhi and now Bihar.
The knives won't be out as of now. But if Modi fails to get his act together on the economic front, his position could get weakened.
It isn't Modi but his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah who is in real danger. Shah micromanaged the entire campaign, even to the extent of marginalising the local leadership. Many say, Shah's arrogance was his undoing. He humiliated state leaders and even the media during the course of the campaign.
Even his comments that fire-crackers will be burst in Pakistan if the BJP loses, will come back to haunt him.
Shah's term as BJP president comes to an end in January. Till now, he seemed all set to secure a second term. Though it is too early to speculate, it is possible that the Bihar debacle could nix his reappointment.
BJP rebels like Shatrughan Sinha and Arun Shourie might be having the last laugh
The BJP president went into damage control mood on Sunday itself by summoning a meeting of party leaders.
At the very least, the defeat should have a chastising effect on Shah and his coterie.
The AIMIM chief sought to enter Bihar's electoral battlefield seeking to replicate his success in Maharashtra. He found the going tough and scaled down his ambitions from 25 seats to 6. Even in those seats AIMIM has done badly.
It's state president Akhtarul Iman lost to his JD(U) rival in Kochadhaman. And that was the AIMIM's best performance. All the other 5 candidates lost their deposits.
And with "secular" parties staging such a combeback, the AIMIM's politics might not be such an attractive option for Muslims.
Jitan Ram Manjhi & Ram Vilas Paswan
Between Manjhi and Paswan, the NDA was expected to bag the crucial Dalit vote in Bihar. Both the leaders came a cropper. While Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party won just 3 seats, the only seat Manjhi won was his own constituency of Imamganj. He even lost in the second seat he contested: Makhdumpur.
Manjhi chose to add insult to his own injury by announcing during counting that he is open to becoming chief minister!
In retrospective it seems, had he remained in the JD(U), he would have been an influential leader of the Mahagathbandhan. Now he's little more than an also-ran.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav walked out of the Grand Alliance claiming he had been insulted. The real humiliation has been the results. The party which contested over 150 seats, failed to win even one. Most of their candidates even failed to save their deposits. Now, the party also stands accused of betraying secular forces, a charge that could prove costly for it in Uttar Pradesh.
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