Bihar bypoll results will not impact 2019 polls, says NDA

Having returned to the NDA fold in July 2017, the JD (U) had hoped to ride the 2010 wave and make political gains in Bihar. However, it could not dent the two RJD bastions-Araria and Jehanabad.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2018 23:52 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar,Bihar bypolls,NDA
Chief minister Nitish Kumar coming out of the assembly premises, after the bypoll results, in Patna on Wednesday.(HT Photo)

The bypoll results in Bihar is not going to affect the ruling NDA, several top ruling alliance leaders said here on Wednesday contradicting opposition claims that the results were ‘huge setback’ for the 8-month old coalition.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the results were on expected lines as the electorate voted on mere sympathy for the candidates. Several BJP and JD (U) leaders also believed the same and reposed faith in Kumar’s leadership going into the forthcoming general elections in 2019. However, with a 2:1 win, RJD leaders spared no opportunity to pull up Nitish for his waning popularity, allegedly after dumping the Grand Alliance (GA) for NDA.

“The results are a huge setback for the NDA,” senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwary said amid celebrations. “Their leaders had claimed that RJD would be wiped out, but results have proved otherwise,” he added.

Having returned to the NDA fold in July 2017, the JD (U) had hoped to ride the 2010 wave and make political gains in Bihar. However, it could not dent the two RJD bastions-Araria and Jehanabad.

What does the result hold for the BJP and JD (U)?

“Though it won’t affect the alliance, it definitely indicates chief minister Nitish Kumar’s waning popularity. There is a general perception that he is at mercy of the BJP,” said political expert, DM Diwakar of A N Sinha Institute of Social Sciences.

Kumar’s decision to sever ties with the GA certainly seems to have not gone down well with Muslims and a few backward communities who voted for him in the 2015 assembly polls.

The Araria parliamentary seat was crucial for both the GA and NDA. Though the RJD had a clear edge with a phenomenal 40% Muslim and 20% Yadav vote bank—its traditional voters—NDA had enough weapons in its armoury to corner the RJD.

Several Muslim voters in Araria were looking for an alternative to Sarfaraz Alam, who has several criminal records and has no political prowess like his father, Taslimuddin, but had no options. Had Nitish gone independently, his candidate would have given a tough fight, felt a few voters.

In the 2014 parliamentary poll, the splitting of votes between BJP and JD (U) was seen as an apparent reason for Taslimuddin’s victory in a poll the BJP had swept across the country. In Bihar, out of the 40 seats, NDA had won 31 seats.

BJP leader Sushil Modi while addressing an election rally in Araria had said that RJD would not be able to match the combine strength of the NDA. The results proved him wrong.

Despite optimism, JD(U) leaders are wary and consider it a wake up call. “With the Lok Sabha elections a year away, the alliance will definitely have to rethink its strategy,” said a JD (U) spokesperson.

“By polls do not create any impact on general elections,” said BJP spokesperson, Rajiv Ranjan. The results, he said, are outcome of sympathy wave across the three constituencies where the winning parties of the previous poll retained their seats.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 23:03 IST