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The magic number: NDA aims for 80% seats in Phases 3 and 4

Aditya Menon | Updated on: 29 October 2015, 15:47 IST
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The mathematics

  • The NDA is gunning to win 85 out of 105 seats in Phases 3 & 4
  • If NDA wins only about 40 seats in the other phases, as expected, it\'ll need this to form the govt

The optimism

  • At the end of the third phase, there was an air of satisfaction at the BJP office in Patna
  • The party is confident of doing well in the upper caste-dominated areas around the state capital

More in the story

  • How the members of each alliance fared in these regions in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls
  • What\'s working for and against the NDA in these districts

As the third phase of polling in Bihar came to a close, there was an air of satisfaction at the BJP office on Veer Chand Patel Marg in Patna.

A senior state-level leader of the party was receiving inputs from Buxar and Arrah that the party has done well.

"Even from Patna and nearby areas like Danapur, the reports have been good," he said.

The question is, will it be good enough to offset the losses in the first two phases?

"The news that the first two phases went the grand alliance's way is a creation of the media; that too, the Delhi media," said five-time BJP MLA Rameshwar Prasad Chaurasiya.

"We have done well in those phases. But our performance in the third and fourth phases will be phenomenal."

'We need 80%'

Bihar election phase 3 & 4 PTI 3

Photo: PTI

Everyone in the BJP - from party president Amit Shah to the worker on the ground in Bihar - is aware that the party's fate will be decided on 28 October and 1 November, during the third and fourth phases of polling.

The BJP has set an inordinately high target - 85 seats out of 105 - for the two phases. "It's like an exam. We need to get 80%," explains a senior party leader.

By most accounts, the first two phases seem to have gone in favour of Nitish Kumar-led mahagathbandhan. The grand alliance, according to some estimates, is expected to be heading towards a tally of 50 in the 81 seats that were up for grabs in the two phases.

The Lalu-Nitish grand alliance is estimated to get 50 of the 81 seats in the first two phases

The BJP isn't very optimistic about the fifth phase in north-eastern Bihar, given the large number of Muslim-dominated seats in that region.

Instead, it is counting on a complete sweep of north-western and west-central Bihar, the regions that go to vote in the third and fourth phases. These correspond to the Tirhut, Saran and Patna administrative divisions of the state.

Not only would these phases help the NDA make up for its losses, but even turn the tables on the grand alliance.

The numbers add up

Bihar election phase 3 & 4 2 PTI

Photo: PTI

It is in these areas of Bihar that the Modi wave had the greatest impact during the Lok Sabha elections last year.

Consider this: the NDA won 16 of the 17 seats in these areas. The JD(U) managed to hold on only to Nalanda, Nitish's pocket borough.

Out of the 105 Assembly segments in this region, the NDA led in a whopping 90. In 58 of those, the NDA's vote share was greater than the JD(U) and the Congress-RJD alliance put together.

In contrast, the RJD-Congress alliance or the JD(U) led only in 13 segments, which gives an idea of how comprehensively the NDA dominated this region.

The fifth phase will largely take place in north-east Bihar, where many seats are Muslim dominated

However, in 32 of the segments where the NDA led, the combined vote share of the grand alliance partners is more than the NDA.

This means that the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress can turn the tables on the NDA in 32 segments, if each of them successfully transfers their votes to the alliance.

Phase 3

Bihar election phase 3 & 4 1 PTI

Photo: PTI

Districts: Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Patna, Bhojpur, Buxar

Number of seats: 50

Number of segments the NDA led in in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections: 37

Number of segments the grand alliance led in: 13

Segments in which the combined vote-share of the grand alliance exceeded the NDA's: 16

Phase 4

Districts: Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Siwan

Number of seats: 55

Number of segments NDA led in in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections: 53

Number of segments the grand alliance led in: 2

Segments in which the combined vote-share of the grand alliance exceeded the NDA's: 16

What is working for the NDA

  • In urban centres like Patna, the Modi factor will be the most effective. Patna alone has 14 seats, though not all are urban.
  • Areas such as Patna, Purvi Champaran, Arrah, Chhapra and Saran have been traditionally BJP strongholds.
  • Many of these areas are heavily dominated by upper castes, who have traditionally voted for the BJP.
  • Many powerful central leaders of the NDA are MPs from this region: Ram Vilas Paswan (Hajipur), Radha Mohan Singh (Purvi Champaran), Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Saran), Ashwini Kumar Choubey (Buxar) and Ram Kripal Yadav (Pataliputra).

If NDA gets 30 seats in the first two phases and 10 in the last, it will need 85 in the 3rd & 4th

What is going against the NDA

  • Shatrughan Sinha, the MP from Patna Sahib, is on a warpath against BJP's Bihar leadership.
  • RK Singh, the MP from Arrah, also came out publicly against the BJP's state leadership
  • Yadav consolidation in favour of the grand alliance would be disastrous for the NDA, especially in Patna and Muzaffarpur
  • The JD(U) is likely to hold its ground in its stronghold of Nalanda, which has eight seats
  • The RJD also has a few strongholds within Saran and Patna districts, as well as the Jagdishpur seat in Bhojpur district
The BJP allies aren't pulling their weight. Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP has particularly become a cause of concern. Apparently the party hasn't put up strong candidates on many of the seats.

"We should have reduced the number of seats for RLSP and even LJP. (Jitan Ram) Manjhi's party could have been given more," a BJP functionary told Catch.

To use a cricketing analogy, the NDA is facing a steep required rate. If it manages to win 85 seats in the third and fourth phases and 30 seats in the first two phases, it would need less than 10 seats in the last phase to come to power in Bihar.

But if the grand alliance constituents transfer their votes effectively, it would be curtains for the NDA.

First published: 29 October 2015, 15:47 IST
 
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