iconimg Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mammen Matthew , Hindustan Times
Patna, May 16, 2014
A Narendra Modi-driven saffron wave swept through Bihar flattening identity and caste politics, wiping out wholly the Nitish Kumar led Janata-Dal (U) and Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress combine on Friday.

The NDA coalition powered to 31 seats - an increase of 19 seats. With an overwhelming 44% vote share for BJP, up 30% from 2009, the party alone won 22 of the 30 seats it fought. Its allies, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP won an astounding 6 of 7 seats contested, while Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) bagged all 3 it fought. The overall tally of NDA just missed the 2009 mark, when the BJP had partnered Nitish Kumar’s JD-U, by just 1 seat.

The main opponents, RJD-Congress-NCP combine won just 7, while JD-U posted just 2, down 18 from the last LS polls. To make the matters worse, Lalu Prasad’s ex-ally, Paswan, won almost as many seats as UPA combine while Nitish’s candidate in his own home constituency barely won.

The resounding BJP win also puts the political future of its opponents in serious doubt. The RJD barely managed to retain 4 seats as in 2009, while Congress won 2 and NCP one.

The biggest casualties of the RJD were Rabri Devi (Saran), Misa Bharti (Patliputra) Jagadanand Singh (Buxar), Prabhunath Singh (Maharajganj), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (Vaishali), Abdul Bari Siddiqui (Madhubani) and MAA Fatmi (Darbhanga), while Congress bigwigs, Meira Kumar (Sasaram), Akhilesh Prasad Singh (Muzaffarpur) and Nikhil Kumar (Aurangabad) fell by the wayside.

The prominent UPA winners were Tariq Anwar of NCP (Katihar), with Congress’s Asrarul Haque (Kishanganj) and Ranjita Ranjan (Supaul). Her husband Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, (Madhepura), besides RJD’s Jayprakash Narain Yadav (Banka), Bulo Mandal (Bhagalpur) and Md Taslimuddin (Araria), were the RJD winners.

However, the BJP suffered severe losses in sitting seats of Bhagalpur, Purnia, Katihar and Banka -the first a shock loss for party stalwart, Shahnawaj Hussain.

Besides, it suffered a total wipeout in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal in Bihar’s northeast, which took away the shine from the complete sweep everywhere.

LJP, which did not have a single seat in alliance with RJD in 2009, won Hajipur, Jamui, Munger, Vaishali, Khagaria and Samastipur -three seats within family- while another ally, Rashtriya Loktantrik Samata Party (RLSP) won Karakat, Sitamarhi and Jehanabad to bolster the NDA tally.

JD-U leader, chief minister Nitish Kumar found himself totally eclipsed from the national mainstream-faring worst among all regional parties nationally-the loss raising serious concerns over his regime’s imminent fall on the back of past desertions and rumours of ‘more to come’, which have been fanned by BJP leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and C P Thakur’s claims of “more than 50 JD-U MLAs” being in touch with them.

JD-U national president Sharad Yadav lost the close fight in Madhepura to Pappu Yadav, leaving only Nitish’s handpicked candidate Kaushlendra Kumar in the former’s native district of Nalanda and Santosh Kushwaha who trumped BJP heavyweight Uday Singh in Purnia, to retrieve some pride. A prominent JD-U loser was Prakash Jha, the filmmaker, in Paschim Champaran.