The BJP-led NDA won 13 of 24 Bihar Legislative Council seats that went to the polls on Friday, giving a shot in the arm to the saffron camp ahead of Bihar’s assembly polls after its stunning general election win last year.
The NDA held only eight of the seats earlier. The results were also a blow for the Janata coalition and Congress, which won just 10 seats: the JD-U accounted for five seats, the RJD four and the Congress just one. An independent candidate won from Patna.
The weathervane result puts a question mark on the efficacy of the Janata coalition which is looking to stop the BJP from sweeping the eastern state.
Some 1.38 lakh members of local bodies, mostly panchayat representatives who are not elected on party lines, participated in the Bihar council polls, billed as a semi-final to state assembly elections in a few months time.
The poll showed that the whole premise of the RJD-JD(U) tie-up after 17 years of bitter rivalry to unite backward classes - especially Yadavs, Kurmis and EBCs - did not appear to be working well, a point of worry for both Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad.
Observers feel RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been steering the Janata coalition despite dissent within the party over the tie-up with arch rival JD(U) after the 2014 parliamentary polls, has lost his power to leverage a higher seat share for the assembly.
“It is a big win for the BJP and reflects how the people of Bihar have rejected the Janata coalition,” said senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi .
The results proved that the saffron camp’s social engineering to combine upper castes and backward classes is a winning combination, which would give it an edge over its Janata rivals.But Manoj Jha, national spokesperson of the RJD said the profile of the electorate in the Council polls for local bodies seats was restricted to panchayat members and did not reflect the popular mood of Bihar’s 6.5 crore voters. "It is wrong to equate the council polls as a semi-final to the assembly polls," he said.