BJP in driving seat for the primary time in Bihar

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10

Even while swinging wildly between two main contestants (JD-U’s Nitish Kumar-led NDA and RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav-led ‘mahagathbandhan’), the results of the 2020 Bihar elections today firmly put into place the BJP in the driving seat, reducing the five-time CM Nitish Kumar to the secondary position, for the first time in the NDA relationship in the state. 

Now whosoever becomes the Chief Minister, the BJP has become the dominant political force in the Bihar, say political observers. Though the top BJP leadership has said that Nitish Kumar will be the CM even if the JD-U gets lesser numbers, voices are expected to start emerging from within the state unit for a BJP CM, they believe. And as the party’s national general secretary Tarun Chugh interestingly mentioned “it will be CM of the choice of PM Narendra Modi, whether from the JD-U or the BJP”.

The downsizing of JD-U’s numbers has also put on the roll the saffron party’s long-term plans to strike alone in the state sometime in future. And if Nitish Kumar becomes the CM it will be on BJP’s terms. Therefore in those terms, the saffron party has emerged as the big gainer in these elections. The BJP called it an “endorsement” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his policies amid the Covid pandemic.

“The NDA was fighting with a handicap of 15-year anti-incumbency of Nitish Kumar but Prime Minister Modi steered the situation in its favour. And this despite not such a good beginning in the Phase-I,” party leaders say. 

The results from the bypolls and Bihar have also given BJP president JP Nadda much to cheer about. Nadda put his heart and soul in these elections, micro-strategising with different political tools and options to turn an adverse election in BJP’s favour. 

Despite exit polls predicting otherwise, the BJP-JDU-HAM-VIP franchise worked well in complex caste matrix of Bihar. Though LJP’s Chirag Paswan, who appears to have drawn a naught for all his tall claims and efforts according to figures at the time of filing of this report, managed to push Nitish Kumar to the third place and making him dependent on BJP, there is another side to the story. A section believes that Chirag actually “diverted attention from anger against Nitish Kumar”. “He played the role of a ‘vote katuwa’ but in favour of the NDA. The anti-Nitish Kumar forward votes that may have gone to the ‘mahagathbandhan’ were presented another option in the form of the LJP, likewise in the case of AIMIM in Seemanchal,” they say. 

Along with “behind-the-scene” political support and backing by substantial force of ‘silent’ women voters defying classic caste combinations, the BJP also managed to consolidate ‘non-Yadav, non-Muslims and forward voters’ in its favour. “It was a combination of forward, non-Yadav OBCs and majority of MBCs, EBCs and Dalits that worked iwith VIP and HAM(S) adding key caste vote banks for the NDA.  Mahagathbandhan’s decision to give more seats to Congress and part ways with Mukesh Sahani-led VIP worked for NDA,” they add.

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