Bihar Election 2020: Triangular contest could be the ultimate decider once again
The trends in the ongoing counting of the three-phase Bihar polls have reaffirmed the importance of “triangle politics”, where a two-party alliance makes an invincible combination, despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Triangle politics has little room for smaller parties. A single party does not get a majority on its own in this scenario.
The trends indicate that none of the three major parties – the Janata Dal (United), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) – is anywhere near the magic figure of 122 in the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly.
And an alliance will be needed to form a government in Bihar.
The ruling JD(U) and the BJP, which are part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the RJD form the three sides of the triangle this time, leaving little room for smaller parties and independent candidates.
The triangle formula was at work during the 2015 assembly polls as well, keeping the BJP out of the frame after the JD(U) and the RJD came together, barely a year after the former had scored an impressive victory in the parliamentary elections.
This year, Kumar was said to be facing a massive anti-incumbency wave after a 15-year uninterrupted rule. However, he reiterated that he would become the CM for the seventh time.
As an ambitious Chirag Paswan (37), his bête noir and the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), took potshots at him on a daily basis, the one-million jobs offer by RJD scion Tejashwi Prasad Yadav also helped gain anti-NDA momentum during the last few days of intense campaigning.
However, a self-assured Kumar brushed aside Yadav’s promises as a “poll gimmick” and “unfeasible” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood by Kumar in the face of Paswan’s attacks.
Also, Kumar sought votes in the name of PM Modi, which appears to be a decisive factor as it sought to blunt the anti-incumbency.
His poll campaign echoed the BJP’s pet themes of muscular nationalism and a power-packed punch against Pakistani terrorism.
Last year’s parliamentary elections were seen as a litmus test for Kumar, who transcended Bihar’s identity politics and won 17 seats, as did the BJP, leaving six for the LJP. Triangle politics was on display during last year’s parliamentary elections as well, when the NDA won 39 out of 40 Lok Sabha seats from Bihar.
“The Lok Sabha poll was the curtain-raiser for assembly elections and the gap of votes between the NDA and Grand Alliance (GA), comprising the RJD, the Congress and the Left parties, this time seemed too big, despite apparent social churning due to Covid-19, joblessness and anti-incumbency, which reduced the gap,” said Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary of the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI).
“In Bihar’s triangle politics, the JD(U) and the BJP have always been a formidable force. The difference of vote share with our rivals is up to 12%, which is impossible to bridge,” said Sushil Kumar Modi, the deputy CM of Bihar.
Professor Ajay Jha, a political analyst, said the election was never expected to be a one-sided affair. “But the BJP appears to be doing well to smartly offset the anti-incumbency factor against CM Kumar. The BJP is emerging as the single-largest party. The LJP has not only cut into JD (U) votes, but has also confused voters in constituencies where the GA has posed a formidable challenge,” he added.
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