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BJP, Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) deal fatal blow to opposition front in Bihar

In 2017, when it decided to part with the Grand Alliance (GA) Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) seemed to have correctly gauged what lay in wait for them during the 2019 general elections.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 24, 2019 08:26 IST
Anil Kumar and B Viijay Murty
Anil Kumar and B Viijay Murty
Hindustan Times, Patna
Lok Sabha elections 2019,India news,JDU
Prime minister Narendra Modi interacts with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar(ANI photo)

In 2017, when it decided to part with the Grand Alliance (GA) Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) seemed to have correctly gauged what lay in wait for them during the 2019 general elections.

The emphatic win of its 16 out of 17 candidates endorses the trend of JD (U)’s successful track record of poll alliances. Outsmarting its 2015 assembly poll results when it won 70 out of the 100 seats after deciding to contest in alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, the JD (U) has improved its strike rate to near 100%. Translated into assembly segments, this comes to more than 102 seats.

Kumar has emerged more powerful than before and his performance as the chief minister has not only been accepted, but has also helped him keep his carefully cultivated electoral constituencies of women, economically backward castes (EBCs), dalits and even minorities intact even as he complemented the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for a bigger win.

“While Narendra Modi’s nationalism pitch has superseded all other issues, in Bihar, people have a favourable disposition towards Nitish Kumar’s commitment for development and these two factors have struck an emotional connect which has resulted in decimating the opposition,” said DM Diwakar, former director, AN Sinha Institute for Social Studies, Patna.

In the 2014 general elections, JD(U) had contested alone and won only two seats. The BJP, which had contested in alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), won 22 seats on its own and with its allies, the tally went up to 31 (BJP-22, RLSP-3, LJP-6) out of the 40 seats.

The equations changed in 2019 with JD(U) entering the polls with BJP and LJP under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) banner. The trends so far indicate that in Bihar, the electorate overwhelmingly stood behind the Nitish Kumar-Narendra Modi combine, in the hope of placing the state on a faster growth trajectory. Kumar deserves credit for the NDA’s performance since he travelled across the state and appeared at the highest number of election rallies (172).

The JD(U)-BJP coalition proved lethal for the opposition. The BJP brought in the wide support of upper castes to the JD(U)’s existing popularity the EBCs, other backward castes (OBCs), minorities and women voters. The NDA also managed to wean a chunk of the Yadavs and Muslims away from the RJD and Congress, for whom these communities have been a traditional vote bank.

Together, BJP, JD (U) and LJP secured 52.30% of the vote share. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the three parties had 29.86% of the vote share.

Hoping for this scenario, the coalition was put together in a hassle-free manner with the BJP agreeing to sacrifice five sitting seats to accommodate JD(U) as an equal partner, with both parties contesting 17 seats each. The LJP, a hard bargainer, agreed to part with one seat out of the seven it had contested last time.

With barely a year to go for the assembly polls, the JD(U) with a 100% strike rate will sit at the negotiating table for the Assembly elections with a lot more confidence and Kumar will undoubtedly remain the party’s
chief ministerial candidate while JD(U) retains its elder brother tag in the state.

First Published: May 24, 2019 01:09 IST

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