With the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leading in Bihar, celebrations are underway at the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-United offices.
While the Bihar poll trends show the ruling NDA marching ahead of the RJD-led Grand Alliance, the mood was buoyant among BJP and JD(U) workers, but RJD and Congress workers looked disappointed, but hoped for things to change in their favour.
The Bihar election campaign that hinged on Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have paid off for the NDA and BJP. While, the BJP has so far polled 19.89 per cent of votes against RJD's 22.95 per cent till 5 pm. However, the BJP, along with alliance partner JD(U), has so far pocketed 35.43 per cent votes against 32.13 per cent polled by the RJD-Congress combine.
Janata Dal (United)'s election manifesto called the 'Saat Nishchay 2' seems to have worked its magic. The manifesto came with a tagline that read, “Poore hote vaade, ab hai naye iraade.”
While the BJP manifesto speaks specifically of creating 19 lakh jobs, and the Opposition’s 10 lakh government jobs pitch has been generating attention, the JDU manifesto did not put a number on the job opportunities they were looking to create, but focused on issues like better technical education.
Here are the key issues that played a role in Bihar polls:
Women voting percentage:
JD(U) leader and chief minister Nitish Kumar for the election outlined the ''saat nischay'' in the party's manifesto in 2020. Apart from other incentives, the JD-U in its 2020 manifesto vision document announced a number of sops for women. The party promised Rs 5 lakh grant and interest-free loan of the same amount to women starting a new venture.
The manifesto also encouraged higher education, saying unmarried women who cross the “inter” stage will get Rs 25,000 and those who graduate higher education will receive Rs 50,000. These incentives are for women across all castes and communities.
Women, who have been silent voters for so many years, will be the X-factor of this election. According to data released by the Election Commission which showed that women in the state have voted almost 5 per cent more than male voters.
The data of the Election Commission shows female voter turnout in all the three phases together is 59.7 per cent, while male voters is 54.6 per cent. This indicates that women have come out in large numbers to vote and perhaps have been the X-factor of the election.
The Bihar assembly poll outcome shows that the battle largely depends on the altered political alliances and the caste arithmetic. Despite the relatively higher focus on economic issues in this particular election, the role of caste-based politics and the arithmetic of caste-based voting have not lost its ground.
Much of this had a clear impact on Bihar’s deeply-rooted caste society. Interests of different caste groups appeared to revolved around issues like unemployment and material aspirations for a better quality of life.
In 2015, the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) had trumped the NDA by securing more than 41.9% votes. The alliance included the Nitish Kumar-led JD-U, the RJD and Congress. The BJP-led NDA could bag only 29.2% votes.
But this time, the NDA’s strength has increased with LJP, HAM, JD-U and BJP fighting together and the alliance has fetched higher vote share on the basis of caste equations. In Bihar, only 19 per cent voters are from the upper castes, while 16 per cent each are Dalits and Yadavs, 17 per cent are Muslims, and remaining 38 per cent Other Backward Classes.
According to CMIE data, the unemployment rate in Bihar was 10.2 per cent in September 2020. The number is higher than the national average and is among the lowest ranked states. With the reverse migration, the need to create jobs becomes an important issue for the state. In fact, for this election, the NDA focused on employment and enhancing skill of youths to brighten their jobs prospect.
The BJP and JD (U) leaders attacked RJD for its "Jungle-Raaj" (lawlessness) in their past tenure, the NDA promised jobs and promotion of entrepreneurship among women by providing them with financial assistance.
The JDU in it’s manifesto promised to focus on enhancing skill of youths to brighten their jobs prospect, promoting entrepreneurship among women by providing them financial assistance, irrigation facility to every agriculture field and additional health facilities for people and animals.
While, BJPs manifesto for the Bihar sought to reach out to the youth with the promise of 19 lakh jobs in the next five years. Even the exit polls showed that development and jobs are among the top issues for voters in the state. According to the India Today-Axis exit poll, 42 per cent of respondents said that development was the key election issue and 30 per cent cited unemployment as the main problem.