New Delhi, India - July 5, 2017: Sushil Kumar Modi BJP opposition leader in Bihar briefs the media personnel at Delhi BJP Headquarter(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India - July 5, 2017: Sushil Kumar Modi BJP opposition leader in Bihar briefs the media personnel at Delhi BJP Headquarter(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

‘This verdict is a slap on the faces of those who banked on caste politics’

State BJP spearhead and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Friday said the same tempo would be maintained in the 2020 assembly elections in the state
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2019 10:01 AM IST

Overwhelmed with one of NDA’s best-ever performances in Bihar, state BJP spearhead and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Friday said the same tempo would be maintained in the 2020 assembly elections in the state, surpassing even the 2010 verdict, in which the BJP-JD-U combine bagged 216 seats in the 243-member assembly. Speaking to Arun Kumar, Modi said that the Lok Sabha verdict was against the opposition’s caste politics.

How do you view this unprecedented landslide?

It was not unexpected. We expected to win 35-36 seats and we got three more. The track record of the NDA in Bihar says it all. In 2009, we won 32 seats for 37% vote share. In 2014, we got 36-37% vote share even without JD(U) and won 31 seats.

Now, with Nitish Kumar on our side, the writing was on the wall. NDA got around 54% votes. The BJP-JD(U)-LJP combine is formidable.

The verdict is a slap on the faces of those who banked on caste politics and treated votebanks as their fiefdoms. The people have answered them. The opposition did not have any issue.

Did you expect such huge winning margins?

The huge winning margins of NDA candidates clearly indicate that they also got votes from voters the Grand Alliance thought would cater to them. We always saw it coming due to the huge response from people, but many media outlets found it hard to digest, while there were others in the political class who just did not want to see the inevitable. Winning 39 out of 40 seats speaks for itself. If Ashok Yadav won in Madhubani by over 4.5-lakh votes, it cannot be without the votes of Yadavs. Similarly, in Ujiarpur, BJP state chief Nityanand Rai won by a margin of 2.71-lakh votes.

All sections of the society voted for the NDA. The people had only heard of Narendra Modi as Gujarat CM in 2014, while in 2019 they voted positively for him after seeing his work in the last five years.

What about the assembly polls in 2020?

It will be a walkover, as the opposition neither has a credible face, nor any social combination to bank on nor any past performance to match up to, compared to what the people of Bihar have experienced under the state and the central government.

This mandate points to the crumbling walls of casteism and emergence of a new India, in which people want to vote for work. Caste is a reality, but now political leaders cannot take it for granted without performance.

They have experienced what Nitish Kumar did in the last 13 and a half years and what Narendra Modi did in the last five years.India has changed and so has Bihar.

Cobbling up caste alliances will not serve any purpose. We knew the capabilities of leaders like Jitan Ram Manjhi, Upendra Kushwaha and Mukesh Sahni, which the GA was gloating about, as they had all been with us earlier.

Did you benefit from the nationalistic fervour or Nitish Kumar’s work in Bihar?

It is a combination of both – PM Modi’s personality and the work of both the governments at the centre and in Bihar. Since it was a national election, national security was a big issue. The Balakot strikes did create a positive image about Narendra Modi. The ‘tukre-tukre’ gang was blown away, as people got together to support Narendra Modi.

Nitish Kumar’s work and image was an icing on the cake, as people trust him as a man who walks the talk and delivers. The social change and development that has happened in Bihar in the last 13 years is for real and the people have started appreciating it, across caste lines.

Did Lalu Prasad’s absence help the NDA?

By being in jail, Laluji has saved himself from the blushes of a resounding defeat. Now, his supporters say that things could have been different had he been campaigning. But the reality would have remained the same. BJP, JD-U and LJP make a strong team and cover a huge social base. Nitish Kumar himself did at least two election meetings in the constituencies of BJP and LJP candidates. Same was the case with LJP and BJP leaders. It was coordinated team work.

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