The Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance on Sunday looked set to form the next government in Bihar, possibly with a near three-fourth majority, an outcome which was shaped by a combination of factors.
The chief factor that swung what was all along seen as a close election in favour of the alliance was the consolidation of Yadav and Muslim votes as well as support from Kumar’s primary constituency of Kurmi voters.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the remarks by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that time had come to re-look at the reservation policy just ahead of the poll turned out to be a self-goal for the party. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders tried to counter this but by the time the defence came, it was too late.
Watch: How BJP lost the plot in Bihar
Yadav and other backward castes, who control about 60% of the Bihar electorate, benefit from the government’s affirmative action.
Kumar’s clean image and his projection as the chief minister candidate also did the magic for the grand alliance as he is seen as a man committed to development. Several of his schemes, particularly those related to empowerment of women and girls, were popular and received wide appreciation.
The grand alliance’s victory is also attributed to the rejection of communal politics, driven mostly by the recent debate over cow slaughter and consumption of beef.
For the NDA, in addition to the bitter campaign launched by its leaders and more particularly by the BJP, targeting Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and name calling alliance leaders also seemed to have caused damage to the BJP’s chances. The party also failed to derive any benefit from the promise of a special Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for Bihar.
People also questioned NDA’s non-announcement of a CM candidate as the several names doing the round confused them.
What worked for GA
1. Consolidation of Yadavs, Muslim and Kurmi voters
2. Capitalisation of Mohan Bhagwat’s anti-quota statement
3. Projection of Nitish Kumar as CM
4. Rejection of communal politics
5. Selection of right candidate
What went wrong for NDA
1. Underestimating Lalu Prasad’s political acumen
2. Personal, bitter campaign by BJP leaders
3. RSS chief Bhagwat’s anti-quota statement
4. Dissent among leaders over ticket distribution
5. No CM candidate