Of course the Grand Alliance won. Here's why
- Nitish Kumar\'s branding around development helped the Grand Alliance\'s image
- Grouping of EBCs helped fetch votes for Nitish and Lalu
- Women were enthused by pro-girl child policies of the Nitish regime
- Mohan Bhagwat\'s revisionist stand on quotas worked against the NDA
- The Dadri issue polarized Muslim voters
- Narendra Modi\'s comments on Nitish\'s DNA backfired
It is a grand victory for the Grand Alliance. Amid the celebrations it is worth trying to decode what led to this strategic win for the Janata Dal (United), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress. Here's a lowdown:
The factor that dominated this Bihar elections the most was the 'caste-plus' factor - Nitish Kumar's development initiatives in Bihar bore fruits.
The brand equity of the Bihar chief minister - his proven track record and development-oriented promises went down well with the people of Bihar. So much so that even in the savarn (upper caste)-dominated NDA strongholds, Nitish's Janata Dal (Union) won handsomely.
The creation of the caste-based subset of the extremely backward class (EBC) had a strong impact. Political analysts had underscored the importance of this subgroup within other backward classes, also known as the Pachpania (The 55), who were allotted 17% reservation by Nitish. The Grand Alliance's claim on the EBCs eventually stood tall.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's contentious statement on the need to review the quotas backfired on the NDA. On the other hand Lalu-Nitish judiciously used this in mobilizing the backwards in the name of social justice.
The apprehensive youth of Bihar got divided on caste lines when the NDA started questioning the reservation policy. This transformed into anti-NDA youth campaigns even in distant villages, mobilizing the rural voters in favour of the Grand Alliance.
The Grand Alliance also got its timing right - be it in forming political coalitions or social tie-ups.
Fifth, the beef issue. The saffron bandwagon dismissing the lynching of 52-year-old Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri as a trivial incident and even issued derogatory statements. This flared up religious statements.
While on one hand, the NDA failed to consolidate Hindu votes decisively, the repercussions of Dadri polarized Muslim voters in favour of the Grand Alliance.
Sixth, the judicious ticket distribution of seats. Nitish and Lalu Prasad not only took cognizance of local calculations and power equations, but also gave due importance to the projected public image of candidates.
Also, Nitish diligently capitalized Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement at his 25 July rally: "Is aadmi ka DNA hi kharab hai (This man has a poor DNA)." Roping in Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Lalu, he turned the tables on the PM and said by questioning his DNA, Modi had insulted all Biharis. The success of his "Swabhiman Rally" crystallised public opinion.
The last nail in the coffin was the high turnout of women voters in favour of the Grand Alliance. The Nitish government's pro-girl child education policy and programmes effectively took his influence to the remotest areas of Bihar and raised political consciousness of women.
This result will have far-reaching political consequences, including in the corridors of the BJP. It may weaken Modi's stronghold over the party and even lead to formation of an anti-Modi lobby.