Exit polls say BJP-JDU set to win handsomely in Bihar
The BJP-JD(U) partnership is set to sweep the Lok Sabha election in Bihar trumping the Congress-RJD combine, said a majority of exit polls on Sunday.
The Republic-CVoter survey gives BJP-JD(U) 33 seats and RJD-Cong 7 seats. Another survey by Times Now-VMR gives 30 seats to the NDA and 10 to the Congress and its allies.
The ABP-AC Nielsen survey predicts 34 seats for the NDA and 6 to the RJD-Congress alliance. News 24 - Chanakya predicts 32 seats for the NDA and 8 for the Opposition Congress alliance.
Yet another exit poll, India TV-CNX, gives 32 seats to the NDA and 8 to the Congress and its allies. The Republic Jan Ki Baat predicts seats in the range of 28-31 to the NDA, 8-11 for the Congress-RJD combine and 1 to Others.
Five years ago, the BJP, recently divorced then from Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, had grabbed 22 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats; its allies Lok Jan Shakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party mopped up six and three seats more, totalling a massive 31 seats for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as it marched to power at the Centre by a big margin.
The JD(U) could win only two seats. Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal won four, the Congress one.
Much has changed in Bihar’s political landscape since then, including a return of Nitish Kumar as a BJP ally after an adventurous turn as traditional rival Lalu Yadav’s partner. That partnership - called a Mahagathbandan or grand alliance that included the Congress - saw Nitish Kumar return as chief minister before he ditched the new configuration for old friends.
Back in the NDA, the BJP and JD(U) have contested an equal number of seats, 17, this time, with smaller allies contesting the remaining six. The decision caused heartburn among some allies, like Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, who moved away.
The NDA takes on in the state Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress along with regional allies, together part of the Congress-led national alliance, the UPA.
“Who succeeds and to what extent, only the results will tell. But the results will have far-reaching implications, as this election will be a curtain raiser for assembly elections a year later,” said Shaibal Gupta, member secretary of the Asian Development Research Institue (ADRI).
Despite apparent confidence in both the camps, there is also a palpable sense of concern with the stakes so high.
While the NDA claims to have successfully reignited the Narendra Modi wave riding on airstrikes on terror camps in Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama attack, the grand alliance is banking on a new chemistry built around a call to opposition parties to defeat the BJP.
“Issues took a backseat and the people, too, did not seem too much bothered about it, much to the delight of political parties. It was basically a fight between ‘Modi-yes’ and ‘Modi-No’. Whether caste factor could have an overriding influence on this, it cannot be said for sure,” said Prof Vijay Kumar of BRA Bihar University.
Bihar has always been crucial in national politics and it has remained so in these elections, going by the attention it got from top national and regional leaders. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah led 10 rallies each, the tallest Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi slogged across the length and breadth of the state with 132 election programmes, including 89 rallies and 43 road shows.
The JD-U did not initially appear comfortable playing second fiddle, but Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar still addressed 172 election meetings across the State, highlighting the achievements of the Narendra Modi government at the centre and his government in Bihar.
The Grand Alliance (GA), which did phenomenally well in the 2015 assembly polls to stop the BJP, tried a new combination without the JD-U by roping in smaller allies and focused on its old allegation that its leader Lalu Prasad has been unfairly jailed. Lalu’s son Tejaswhi Prasad spearheaded the campaign in the absence of his father and these elections are seen as a test of his leadership.
Lalu Prasad tried to make up for his absence with tweets, letters and a timely book to consistently make news.