Bihar Elections: The Modi Magic, The Alliance Arithmetic And A Worry – Key Takeways
The NDA might have gained the majority in Bihar, but the biggest winner after the election has to be the BJP. For the first time in its history, has the saffron party become the number one party in the coalition. Back in 2015, its tally was 53 out of the 157 seats it contested – and now in 2020, out of the 121 seats it contested, the BJP has won 74.
There was widespread resentment against Nitish Kumar and this reflected in the poor performance of the JD(U) — of the 115 seats that it contested, it won only 43. This has made the BJP the leading partner of the alliance in Bihar, a position that the party had yearned for.
“One thing is very clear, Maahual is still very important and with PM Modi, he sets the agenda and people want to believe him. The entire campaign, the fervour, and now the results have driven home the fact that Modi is still insanely popular. If we say that this election was a Modi’s governance during these times, there will be no exaggeration. Such was his impact that even the anger against Nitish Kumar did not matter to the voters,” a senior journalist, who covered the elections, told me on the conditions of anonymity.
There was a concerted effort to portray Nitish Kumar as the CM face and even when the party is the bigger brother as far as the seats are concerned, the top brass and the cadre of the BJP want Nitish to lead the government. There is a plan here, and there is thinking.
“Look, the BJP is aiming for the longer run. So, they have calculated this. Over the last couple of years, they have lost the Shiv Sena and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Now, despite the JD(U) being weak, they are allowing Nitish to lead the government and this they hope will resonate on the ground and will help them when they reach out to other regional parties in the future,” he went on to add.
However, despite the grand performance, there are still major concerns in the ranks. There was a lack of a strong regional face during the campaigns and the BJP high-command was still calling the shots. While it worked perfectly this year, it could well come to a halt when the Modi-juggernaut starts to fade away.
“There is the absence of strong regional leaders in the political party and this election drove home this fact. If we see, under the current regime, only Yogi Adityanath and to some extent, BS Yediyurappa enjoy popularity. Leaders like Devendra Fadnavis, ML Khattar and even Shivraj Singh Chauhan have either weakened or have lost power. This should worry the party – too much centralization of power never bodes well,” he quipped.