The electoral trounce in the Bihar assembly elections is the second major political setback for the Narendra Modi led-BJP this year after their humiliating defeat in Delhi in February.
The dream run of the Modi-juggernaut in 2014 came to a halt with Delhi, home to lakhs of migrants from Bihar. Together with migrants from bordering eastern Uttar Pradesh, the diaspora from the eastern state emerged to be a critical votebank in the capital and played a decisive role in the stupendous victory of the Aam Aadmi Party.
While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal did not campaign for the Grand Alliance in Bihar, he openly extended his support to Nitish Kumar, appealing the electorate to vote and ensure Kumar comes back to power.
Malti, a 32-year-old domestic help from south Delhi’s Andrew’s Ganj, is happy that Nitish won. “In my village in Bhagalpur, Nitish is very popular. There are so many girls going to school because of him. My sister-in-law got a bicycle from the government. She gets her books and uniform on time. She is able to continue her studies, thanks to him,” she said, a sentiment echoed by several voters in Bihar.
Malti says she sees a lot of similarities between Nitish and Delhi CM Kejriwal. “They both have a progressive, developmental agenda. They are both pro-poor,” she said. Malti and her husband, in Delhi for the past eight years, voted for AAP in the last two elections.
Women voters had come out in hordes in all the five phases of election. Their presence was also remarkable in the rallies through the campaigning period across the state, both addressed by Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The credit of political participation of women largely goes to Nitish Kumar whose government legislated 50% reservation for them in the last panchayat polls, said Arun, a green grocer in Milap Nagar, west Delhi.